Bulsatcom's BulgariaSat-1 satellite set for June 23 launch

Posted June 24, 2017

BulgariaSat-1 will be taken into space from Cape Canaveral aboard a space-proven Falcon 9 rocket provided by SpaceX.

On Friday at 3:10 p.m. ET, SpaceX successfully launched a reused Falcon 9 rocket loaded down with BulgariaSat-1 - the small European nation's first geostationary communications satellite - to orbit.

For Falcon 9 launches, the countdown process typically starts one hour and 13 minutes before liftoff. It's also the same pad Elon Musk and SpaceX are planning to use for their first mission to Mars. Friday marks the second time this particular rocket stage has been to space and made it back to Earth.

SpaceX first put a used rocket back to work in March. The first stage was then shipped to MacGregor, Texas to undergo refurbishment and testing before being sent to Florida.

"We have full confidence in the reused first stage", said Wendy Lewis, a spokeswoman for satellite manufacturer Space Systems Loral, which signed the launch contract with SpaceX.

"This mission will include a post-launch landing attempt of the first stage, and like all the previous GTO missions, there isn't enough fuel for a Boostback burn, so the landing will occur on the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS) named Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY) now positioned at 28° 13' 48" N 73° 40' 51" W, 679 km downrange. SpaceX wants both to land on robotic platforms.

Sunday's Iridium launch is set for 1:25 p.m. PT. But it will carry an interesting payload: A group of satellites that will be used to help eliminate the "black zones" in tracking commercial airplanes, like the Malaysia Airlines flight which vanished somewhere over the Indian Ocean.

"BulgariaSat-1's payload includes 30 Broadcast Satellite Service (BSS) Ku-band transponders and two Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) Ku-band transponders, in order to meet the current demand for high quality HDTV and Ultra HDTV broadcasting, as well as various other communications applications". That means missing airplanes could become a thing of the past. Today, the rocket launched and reached orbit without incident.

This particular rocket previously flew in January, when it was used to put 10 satellites into orbit for communications company Iridium.