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SpaceX launching comsats Saturday

Spacex rocket with fire and clouds billowing out at launch.
Here’s a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster, lifting off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on October 8, 2022. The ship carried a pair of Intelsat Media Galaxy communication satellites. On Saturday (November 12, 2022), SpaceX will send up another pair of Intelsat Media satellites in a mission delayed by Tropical Depression Nicole. Image via SpaceX.

SpaceX launching comsats Saturday

If your 5G connection seems better after Saturday (November 12, 2022), you can thank SpaceX and Intelsat Media. The aerospace companies aim to send a pair of improved communications satellites into orbit from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center now that Tropical Depression Nicole has cleared the state.

Tomorrow’s two-hour launch window opens at 11:06 a.m. ET (16:06 UTC), SpaceX said via Twitter:

The replacement satellites will open up a portion of the radio spectrum to make way for an improved U.S. 5G cellular network.

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Clearing the C-band

Back in 2019, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission decided to reallocate a portion of the radio spectrum – the C-band – used mainly by satellite operators. The aim now is to use the C-band to improve the country’s 5G mobile data network. According to Intelsat, the satellites going up tomorrow are critical to their efforts to vacate the frequencies:

Galaxy 31 (G-31) and Galaxy 32 (G-32) are the next satellites in Intelsat’s comprehensive Galaxy fleet refresh plan, a new generation of technology that will provide Intelsat Media customers in North America with high-performance media distribution capabilities and unmatched penetration of cable headends. They are critical to Intelsat’s U.S. C-band clearing strategy.

The FCC is dangling a fat carrot before satellite operators to incentivize their clearing the C-band. If the satellite operators can abandon it before a deadline that’s now less than a month away, the transition is worth billions to the companies, according to PayloadSpace.com:

December 5 represents a key deadline for C-band satellite operators. If they clear a predetermined portion of airwaves by then – by launching new satellites and migrating customers to other spectrum bands – they stand to receive billions in incentive payments from the FCC.

The FCC can afford the cost of quickening the pace. Wireless companies bid in the area of $81 billion for access to the C-band.

Bottom line: A SpaceX launch on Saturday (November 12, 2022) will orbit a pair of communications satellites that will improve the U.S. 5G network.

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