Watch a replay of our live coverage of the countdown and launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with PSN’s SATRIA communications satellite from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida. Follow us Twitter.
On Father’s Day, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral into orbit a communications satellite built in Europe, the centerpiece of a nearly $550 million project to provide internet service to rural areas of Indonesia.
The 4.6-ton (10,100-pound) spacecraft, known as SATRIA, lifted off atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket from Platform 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 6:21 p.m. EDT (2221 UTC) Sunday. .
Falcon 9 ignited the nine Merlin kerosene-fueled engines in the final seconds of the countdown, then opened the clamps to allow the 229-foot (70 m) rocket to ascend, away from board 40. A few moments later, Falcon 9 blasted off on a course eastward of Cape Canaveral topped out in a sunny sky in the late afternoon.
The reusable first stage of the rocket returned to Earth to land on an unmanned ship 420 miles (680 kilometers) away in the Atlantic Ocean. The Falcon 9 upper stage fired its engine twice to put the SATRIA spacecraft into a “highly synchronized” elliptical transfer orbit tens of thousands of miles above Earth. The Falcon 9 reached a top speed of 21,725 mph (34,963 kph) with the final pulse from the upper stage engine, according to a telemetry view on the live webcast of the mission from SpaceX.
The SATRIA spacecraft’s upper stage deployed about 37 minutes after liftoff. Ground teams were on standby to receive the first signals from the Satria spacecraft, which would turn on its solar panels to recharge its batteries, then use electric thrusters to maneuver into a circular geostationary orbit above the equator.
It will take several months for the ion engines to place the Satria satellite into its orbital position at 146 degrees east longitude, where its speed is proportional to the speed of Earth’s rotation, giving the spacecraft a fixed geographic coverage area over the Asia-Pacific region. The satellite will open three antenna reflectors and activate its communications payload, which consists of 116 Ka-band spot beams.
The SATRIA satellite will provide about 150 Gbps of connections all the time when it goes into service around November.
SATRIA, which stands for Satellite of the Republic of Indonesia, will be operated by Satelit Nusantara Tiga, a subsidiary of Indonesian satellite company PT Pasifik Satelit Nusantara, or PSN.
During its 15-year service life, SATRIA will provide internet service to rural hospitals, schools and government buildings, focusing on areas where terrestrial fiber connections are not available. Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, has nearly 6,000 inhabited islands, which exacerbates the challenge of building a national internet connectivity infrastructure.
“There are areas that are still empty,” said Dani Janwar Ismawan, director of infrastructure for Indonesia’s Communications and Information Access Agency. “This satellite technology is the telecommunications network of last resort. Why use satellite? Because it is impossible to use fiber optic technology or terrestrial microwave technology.”
Satria was built by Thales Alenia Space in Cannes, France, and then flown to Cape Canaveral last month by ship to begin final launch preparations. The satellite is based on the design of Thales’ Spacebus Neo spacecraft, the company’s newest bus that debuted in 2020.
The new satellite will not provide internet service directly to individual users. Instead, the project, backed by the Indonesian government, will support education, health centers, and thousands of public WiFi access points where citizens can connect to the Internet using computers and smartphones.
“For example, in the village office, we put WiFi there,” said Osman Kansung, Indonesia’s general director of public information and communication. “I think the benefits indirectly accrue to society because SATRIA 1 is part of the digital transformation that will also have an impact on people’s well-being in the end.”
The SATRIA project cost approximately $550 million, or about IDR 8 trillion, including satellite construction expenses, launch services, insurance, and ground infrastructure. The Thales contract also covered the construction of two satellite control centers and telemetry stations.
“With a capacity of 150Gbps, more than three times the national capacities still in use today, we believe SATRIA could be the answer to the digital divide that still exists in Indonesia,” said Uday Rahman Adewosu, Director of PSN. .
SATRIA is the second in the series of PSN satellites to provide enhanced communications to Indonesia. The Nusantara Satu satellite, or Nusantara 1, launched in 2019 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, and Nusantara Lima, or Nusantara 5, is scheduled to launch later this year on a Falcon 9 to increase broadband capacity provided by SATRIA, also called Nusantara 3.
PSN’s Nusantara broadband satellites compete in geostationary with connectivity to Indonesian users provided by SpaceX’s Starlink Internet network in low Earth orbit, through an arrangement between SpaceX and Indonesian telecom operator PT Telkom.
Indonesia’s first communications satellite, Palapa A1, was launched in 1976 with a mission to provide broadcast television services.
Working from SpaceX’s Launch Control and Landing Center just south of Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, engineers oversaw the countdown leading up to Sunday’s launch of the SATRIA mission. The Falcon 9 rocket was filled with one million pounds of kerosene and liquid oxygen fuel in the last 35 minutes before liftoff.
After teams verified that technical parameters and weather were all “green” for launch, the nine main Merlin 1D engines on the first stage flashed a booster ignition with the help of a ignition fluid called triethylaluminium/triethylborane, or TEA-TEB. Once the engines were boosted to full throttle, the hydraulic clamps opened to free the Falcon 9 for its climb into space.
The nine main engines produced 1.7 million pounds of thrust for more than two and a half minutes, propelling Falcon 9 and Satria into the upper atmosphere. The booster stage then closed and separated from the Falcon 9 upper stage to begin a controlled descent toward SpaceX’s “A Shortfall of Gravitas” drone ship parked in the Atlantic Ocean.
The booster, designated B1067, extended ultrasonic titanium grille fins and used gas-cold nitrogen engines to control its direction, then reignited three of its nine main engines for a braking maneuver of approximately 30 seconds during re-entry. The final touchdown burn using only the center engine slowed the rocket to land on the drone ship about eight and a half minutes into the mission.
A SpaceX rescue ship was also on site in the Atlantic Ocean to recover the payload for the Falcon 9 rocket after the scalloped nose half-cone plunged into the sea. The payload was jettisoned from the rocket about three and a half minutes into flight, shortly after the Falcon 9’s upper stage engine ignited.
The Falcon 9 rocket fired the upper stage engine twice to inject the SATRIA spacecraft into a hyper-elliptical synchronous transfer orbit. SATRIA’s separation from the Falcon 9 upper stage was confirmed at T+ plus 36 minutes, 47 seconds.
rocket: Falcon 9 (B1067.12)
Payload: SATRIA communications satellite
Launch site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Station, Florida
Lunch date: June 18, 2023
launch window: 6:04-9:02 PM EDT (2204-0102 UTC)
weather forecast: 60-75% acceptable weather probability; The main concerns are cumulonimbus clouds, anvils, and electric fields
Recovery from boost: Unmanned ship “Lack of Gravitas” in the Atlantic Ocean
AZIMUTH LAUNCH: east
target orbit: Super synchronous transfer orbit
- T+00:00: take off
- T+01:14: Max Air Pressure (Max-Q)
- T+02:33: Main Engine Cut Off (MECO) First Stage
- T+02:37: Separation phase
- T+02:44: Second stage engine ignition
- T+03:30: Quiet off
- T+06:33: first stage entry burner ignition (three engines)
- T+06:54: First stage entry combustion ends
- T+08:10: Second stage engine cut off (SECO 1)
- T+08:28: 1st stage combustion ignition (single engine)
- T+08:39: First stage descent
- T+27:40: Second stage engine restart
- T+28:36: Second Stage Engine Cut Off (SECO 2)
- T+36:47: SATRIA break up
- The 233rd launch of the Falcon 9 since 2010
- 244 Falcon family launches since 2006
- Twelfth launch of Falcon 9 Booster B1067
- Flight 173 of the repurposed Falcon 9 booster
- SpaceX launch 196th from the Florida Space Coast
- 129 Falcon 9 launch from platform 40
- 184th launch overall from the 40th board
- SpaceX’s second PSN launch
- The 39th Falcon 9 launch in 2023
- Forty-second launch by SpaceX in 2023
- Attempted 30th orbital launch from Cape Canaveral in 2023
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