SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off on March 4 and placed SES-9 satellite in orbit, while the first stage landed back hard on the drone ship off Cape Canaveral coast. SES-9 satellite is the ninth SES telecommunication satellite in the SES family and the second one launched by SpaceX.
The Falcon 9 dropped the SES-9 satellite in a Geostationary orbit, about 36000 km high in altitude. To get there the rocket needed a lot of propellant in the first stage, which meant the combustible left to attempting a return to the drone ship was limited.
The launch date was initially set up for Feb. 24, then several launch attempts were made respectively on Feb. 25, 26, 28, 29 and on March 1. Sharply changing upper level winds and a boat entering the restricted maritime zone were some of the circumstances causing the launch postponing.
Thanks to its high revisit rate, Deimos-2 Very High resolution (VHR) satellite eyed the whole SES-9 campaign, starting from pre-launch operations in early February (Fig. 1) and then capturing the Falcon 9 at the Launch Pad in Cape Canaveral on Feb. 23, 27, 28 (Fig. 2) and spotting the drone ship ‘Of course I still love you’ ready to recover the first stage in the Atlantic Ocean on March 4 (Fig. 3).
The three-hour tasking-to-delivery capabilities of Deimos-2, made possible to acquire and timely publish the barge image just a couple of hours before the launch.
Fig.1: SpaceX’s Launch Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL, (USA) seen by Deimos-2 on February 16, 2016, during SES-9 launch preparation.
Fig.2: The Falcon 9 at the Launch Pad in Cape Canaveral on Feb. 27 captured by Deimos-2.
Fig.3: The drone ship ‘Of course I still love you’ ready to recover the first stage in the Atlantic Ocean spotted by Deimos-2 on March 4.
Deimos Imaging based in Spain, a subsidiary of UrtheCast (Canada), is one of the world’s leading satellite imagery providers. Deimos operates the DEIMOS-1 and DEIMOS-2 satellites, and two cameras on-board the International Space Station, including a UHD video camera. Deimos also provides imagery from the satellites of its partners in the PanGeo Alliance, a fleet of 14 Earth Observation multispectral sensors, in a wide range of resolutions.
To learn more, visit http://www.deimos-imaging.com/