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A Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX has successfully launched a satellite to orbit. It’s the first time SpaceX has launched a geosynch satellite, its most difficult mission to date.

The SES-8 satellite was released to its geosynchronous transfer orbit. The upper stage will, if all goes well, restart to raise apogee to its prescribed orbit.

SES-8 will provide telecommunications services to South Asia and the Asia Pacific. The 3,200-kg satellite features 33 Ku-band transponders of 36 MHz capacity. In addition, SES-8 carries a Ka-band payload that together with the Ku-band payload consumes approximately five kilowatts of electrical power. Designed for an anticipated service life of 15 years, SES-8 will be co-located with NSS-6 at an orbit location of 95° East Longitude.

Why did SES agree to launch a satellite on a rocket that had never flown to geostationary transfer orbit before and never demonstrated its ability to do so?

According to SpaceX Chairman Elon Musk, SpaceX launched the commercial satellite, insured for $200 million, because the Falcon 9 is capable of completing its mission even if it loses one of the nine first-stage engines. That gives the vehicle an inherent reliability far beyond its actual flight heritage, said Musk.

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