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SpaceX ready to launch from Cape Canaveral

Aug. 26, 2014 - 09:00AM   |  
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SpaceX early Wednesday hopes to launch its second satellite this month for the same international customer, Hong Kong-based communications satellite operator AsiaSat.

A Falcon 9 rocket is targeting a 12:50 a.m. Wednesday liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, with the AsiaSat 6 satellite, at the opening of a window that extends to 4:05 a.m.

Air Force meteorologists anticipate a 80 percent chance of favorable weather during the window at Launch Complex 40.

SpaceX pushed the launch back one day as a precaution after the failure of its single-stage test rocket Friday during a flight at the company’s rocket development facility in Texas.

Like AsiaSat 8, which launched successfully from the Cape on Aug. 5, AsiaSat 6 is headed for a geostationary orbit 22,300 miles over the equator, where its video and broadband data services will focus on growing markets in China.

AsiaSat 6 is similar in size to AsiaSat 8 and built by the same company, Space Systems/Loral, but its 28 transponders will operate in a lower frequency (C-band instead of Ku-band).

Unlike AsiaSat 8, which backed up a satellite already in orbit, AsiaSat 6 will occupy a new orbital slot at 120 degrees East longitude.

“Although it has quite a large coverage, its main focus is to add additional capacity for China,” company president and CEO William Wade told Florida Today before the launch earlier this month.

Under a partnership, Thaicom will use half of AsiaSat 6’s capacity, so the satellite will also be known as Thaicom 7. SpaceX launched Thaicom 6 in January — its first of four launches so far in 2014, including three commercial missions.

A successful launch would grow AsiaSat’s satellite fleet from five to six.

The mission’s flight to a high orbit will not leave enough extra fuel for SpaceX to attempt to fly the Falcon 9 rocket booster back to a soft ocean landing, maneuvers the company has been testing to advance reusable rocket technology.

After this launch of a commercial satellite, SpaceX and NASA plan another International Space Station cargo resupply mission no earlier than Sept. 19.

Either launch could be SpaceX’s last before learning if NASA has selected the company’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft to fly astronauts to the station.

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