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SpaceX Lofts Two C-band Satellites for Intelsat

By | October 9, 2022
      The Northrop Grumman-manufactured Intelsat’s Galaxy 33 and Galaxy 34 satellites launched aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. Photo: SpaceX

      The Northrop Grumman-manufactured Intelsat’s Galaxy 33 and Galaxy 34 satellites launched aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. Photo: SpaceX

      SpaceX launched three separate missions over four days between two coasts, culminating with a double-satellite mission for Intelsat on Saturday evening. The Oct. 8 mission launched Intelsat Galaxy 33 and 34, two Geostationary Orbit (GEO) C-band satellites as part of Intelsat’s work to clear C-band spectrum for 5G use. 

      A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying Intelsat Galaxy 33 and Galaxy 24 lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 7:06 p.m. EDT on Oct. 8. The mission took place Saturday after an auto abort was triggered during an attempt on Thursday at T-30 seconds. 

      Galaxy 33 separated from the vehicle at 7:38 p.m. EDT, and Intelsat confirmed its signal acquisition at 7:43 p.m. EDT. Galaxy 34 separated from the vehicle at 7:43 p.m. EDT, and Intelsat confirmed its signal acquisition at 8:20 p.m. EDT.

      “Today’s launch demonstrates Intelsat’s long-term commitment to our media customers,” said Intelsat CEO Dave Wajsgras. “The Intelsat Galaxy fleet is the most reliable and efficient media content distribution system in North America, and this investment will provide our customers with a reliable and high-performance technology path for media distribution through the next decade.”

      Northrop Grumman built both satellites for Intelsat.

      Galaxy 33 will enter service in November and will replace Galaxy 15 at 133 degrees West. Intelsat lost the ability to command Galaxy 15 in August after an anomaly caused by a space weather event. The satellite will provide service continuity for distribution to cable headends throughout the United States, and it has full C-band capabilities in addition to steerable Ka-band and Ku-band beams.

      Galaxy 34 will replace Galaxy 12 at 129 degrees West once it is in service in late 2022. This satellite will serve as the new restoration payload for Intelsat’s Galaxy cable distribution customers, allowing the previous restoration role at 121 degrees west to be converted to a core cable distribution satellite.

      Saturday’s launch for Intelsat capped off three launches in four days for SpaceX. 

      On Wednesday afternoon, SpaceX launched a Crew Dragon mission to the International Space Station, carrying NASA Astronauts Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, JAXA Astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Roscosmos Cosmonaut Anna Kikina — the first Russian Cosmonaut to fly on a U.S. Commercial Crew Vehicle as part of the recent seat swap deal with NASA. The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from LC-39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at noon, and docked with the ISS around 5 p.m. on Thursday. 

      Then on Wednesday evening, SpaceX launched 52 Starlink satellites from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The Falcon 9 rocket took off at 4:10 p.m. PDT, 7:10 p.m. EDT.