One thing about AmericaSpace, which isn’t true of most other space news outlets, we actually have photojournalists staffed to produce our own imagery, and yesterday was no different, as SpaceX pulled off another successful launch, and landing on Oct 11, sending the SES-11 / EchoStar 105 into orbit at sunset from Kennedy Space Center’s pad 39A atop a Falcon 9 rocket.
As reported by AmericaSpace shortly after launch, its been another big year for SpaceX, with the long-awaited inauguration of Pad 39A for SpaceX operations, as well as launching their first classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), its first reused Upgraded Falcon 9 first stage and its first reused Dragon cargo vehicle.
Read our full in-depth post launch report HERE!
ABOVE: Remote cameras capture SpaceX SES-11 launch.
Credit: Jeff Seibert / AmericaSpace
Including SES-11, SpaceX has launched 42 major payloads into orbit this year, six of which have headed towards a 22,300-mile-high (35,800 km) geostationary altitude. 35 others—including 30 Iridium NEXT satellites, spread across launches in January, June and October—have headed for low-Earth orbit, with Taiwan’s Formosat-5 lofted into a near-polar, Sun-synchronous orbit in August for intensive observations of the Home Planet. Included in this figure have been three Dragon cargo missions to the International Space Station (ISS), the greatest number ever launched in a single calendar year.
SES-11 is the fourth SES bird to be launched by SpaceX, following SES-8—its very first customer to geostationary orbit—way back in December 2013 and, more recently, SES-9 in March 2016 and SES-10 earlier this year.
At least two more satellites, SES-12 and SES-16, are also slated to ride Upgraded Falcon 9s in the coming months.
Looking ahead, SpaceX is preparing to launch the Koreasat 5A satellite off 39A around Halloween, followed by another mission off SLC-40 on neighboring Cape Canaveral AFS in November, their first since the AMOS-6 explosion took out the launch site.
The inaugural launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket, is expected to close out the year off 39A. SpaceX’s Gwynne Shotwell expects it to launch in December.