The global satellite operator, SES, which is headquartered in Luxembourg, has announced the placing of orders for three communications satellites, SES-14, SES-15 and SES-16/GovSat, with three spacecraft manufacturers: Airbus Defence and Space, Boeing Satellite Systems and Orbital ATK respectively.
SES-14 is an “all electric” design using electric thrusters to raise its orbit over four months after its launch in the fourth quarter of 2017. It will be built by Airbus Defence and Space.
The 4,200kg craft is designed to deliver 16kW of power to the communications payload carried. The spacecraft is likely to be eventually placed at 48 degrees West in a Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO). SES-14 is a hybrid satellite with C- and Ku-band wide beam coverage, as well as Ku- and Ka-band High Throughput Satellite (HTS) coverage across the Americas and the North Atlantic region.
Airbus’ direct competitor, Boeing Satellite Systems, has been charged with building SES-15. The spacecraft will use Boeing’s 702SP “all electric” design, which will employ electric thrusters to slowly raise its orbit to its final position in GEO after its launch drop off. The satellite will be launched in the second quarter of 2017 and will provide services over North America. SES-15 will carry a hybrid payload, with additional Ku-band wide beams and Ku- as well as Ka-band High Throughput Satellite (HTS) capability.
The final of the three satellites ordered, SES-16, which is also known as Govsat, will be built by Orbital ATK. This will be a satellite using both conventional and electric thruster systems. This spacecraft is to be co-owned by the Government of Luxembourg and SES under a joint firm LuxGovSat. The spacecraft will be operated over 21.5 degrees East in the GEO arc and will provide X-band and Ka-band services to Luxembourg’s military and its NATO allies over Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The spacecraft is due to launch in the second quarter of 2017.
In a subsequent announcement, SES formally awarded two launch orders to SpaceX for Falcon 9 launches for its SES-14 and SES-16/GovSat satellites. Each of these launches will take place in 2017 from SpaceX’s new Boca Chica Beach launch site near Brownsville in Texas, USA.
SES has also agreed to allow its SES-9 spacecraft to fly on a new enhanced version of the Falcon 9V1.1 rocket later this year. This rocket is a Falcon V1.1, which has had the thrust of its nine Merlin 1D first stage engines increased to 117% rated thrust through structural and engine changes.