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FALCON 9 LAUNCHES TWO ALL-ELECTRIC COMMUNICATIONS SATELLITES
On March 1, 2015, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket delivered the ABS 3A and EUTELSAT 115 West B all-electric satellites to a supersynchronous transfer orbit. Marking Falcon 9’s sixteenth launch and the vehicle’s most voluminous payload to date, the liftoff occurred at 10:50pm EST from SpaceX’s Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The rocket and payload went vertical on the launch pad on Saturday, February 28. Liftoff occurred at the front of the launch window, with Falcon 9’s nine Merlin 1D engines putting out 1.3 million pounds of thrust, rising to 1.5 million pounds as the stage climbed out of Earth’s atmosphere. Approximately three minutes into flight, the first stage engines cut off and the first and second stages separated. Shortly thereafter, the second stage’s single Merlin Vacuum engine ignited to complete a five-minute burn. Twenty-five minutes into flight the engine restarted to complete a one-minute burn to bring the satellites to orbit.
Thirty minutes into flight, the ABS 3A satellite deployed into a supersynchronous transfer orbit followed by EUTELSAT 115 West B approximately five minutes later.
The satellites will now fire their thrusters to reach geosynchronous orbits. As the world’s first all-electric propulsion satellites, they carry no liquid propellant – rather, they reach orbit entirely via a lighter and more efficient electric propulsion system. ABS 3A will be located at 3° West and will connect the Americas, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. EUTELSAT 115 West B will be located at 114.9° West and will provide coverage from Alaska and Canada to South America.
SpaceX’s next launch is targeted for approximately three weeks from now, from Cape Canaveral, Fla.