SpaceX launches satellite, delays space tourism plans

June 4, 2018

SpaceX has successfully launched an SES-12 satellite into orbit but has delayed plans to send space tourists around the moon by the end of the year. Robert Briel at Broadband TV News reports that a SpaceX Falcon 9 early Monday morning carried the SES-12 into an orbit at 90 degrees East to provide fixed-data, video, and mobility services to Asia-Pacific Middle East customers.

Meanwhile, Andy Pasztor at The Wall Street Journal reports that the company won’t launch two space tourists to loop around the moon this year. He quotes SpaceX spokesman James Gleeson as saying, “SpaceX is still planning to fly private individuals around the moon and there is growing interest from many customers.” The company hasn’t released a timetable for the flight.

Briel notes that SES-12 operates with six wide beams and 72 high-throughput user spot beams and is one of the largest geostationary satellites SES has ever launched. He quotes Martin Halliwell, SES CTO, as saying, “More content. More immersive viewing experience. Blazing internet speeds. Reliable cell coverage. All of these dynamic customer requirements can now be met with the successful launch of SES-12, which will provide incremental high performance capacity and offer greater reliability and flexibility to our customers.”

Pasztor notes that the SES-12 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station marked the fifth time SpaceX has been contracted to launch an SES satellite into high earth orbit and that the launch occurred on the eighth anniversary of Falcon 9’s first launch.

Writes Pasztor, “Mr. Musk has a history of missed deadlines involving the Falcon Heavy. Not only was it several years late in blasting off in February, but the high-profile flight coincided with market shifts toward dramatically smaller satellites requiring rockets with less power.”

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