SpaceX: SES-18 and SES-19 Launch

SpaceX is planning to launch a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral at 23:38 UTC on 2023-03-17 to place SES-18 and SES-19, two communication satellites for Luxembourg operator SES S.A., into geostationary transfer orbits to provide television, radio, and Internet service to customers in North America from the 103.05° and 134.9° West orbital slots.

The Falcon 9 booster, B1069, will be making its sixth flight after a 43 day turnaround since its last launch and will land on the offshore drone ship Just Read the Instructions. Weather is forecast as 80% favourable for launch.

Here is a pre-flight preview from Everyday Astronaut.


Nowadays it seems unusual when a classic telecom payload like this is launched by Falcon 9.


SES’s last launch, on 2022-10-04, was SES-20 and SES-21 on a ULA Atlas V, which delivered the satellites directly to near-geostationary orbit using the Atlas V Centaur upper stage. SpaceX has previously delivered satellites directly to geostationary orbit (USSF-67 on 2023-01-15), but that required a Falcon Heavy; Falcon 9 does not have the payload capacity to deliver two 3500 kg satellites to geostationary orbit. These satellites, using the Northrop Grumman GEOStar-3 [PDF] satellite bus, will use their own bi-propellant apogee engines to insert themselves into their operational orbits.