The upcoming launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster carrying twin Boeing built satellites has been moved from Friday, February 27 at 10:49 PM EST, to Sunday evening at 11:01 PM EST.
The liftoff, which will take place from Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 40, will not include an attempt at booster recovery, but it will be historic nonetheless. Stowed away inside the Falcon 9’s payload fairing will be two all electric comsats, EutelSat 115B and Asia Broadcast Satellite-3A.
The pair are the first of a new line of lighter weight spacecraft built on Boeing’s 702 platform and labeled 702-SP.
Featuring electric propulsion provided by four 25 centimeter Xenon Ion Propulsion System (XIPS) each, the two spacecraft will take the slow route to their respective positions in Geostationary orbit 35,756 kilometers above the Equator. Offsetting the delay in revenue for a journey which will take months rather than hours as with traditional chemical propulsion, is the reduction in launch costs by sharing a ride aboard what is already the most economical booster available.
Adding to the savings, Boeing developed a now patented a method of “stacking” the two satellites together without requiring a heavy support structure.
The launch window for Sunday’s event will last 45 minutes. If all goes well, SpaceX will immediately turn to its attention to preparing SLC-40 for a crucial pad abort test for its Dragon Commercial Crew capsule.