‘BulgariaSat-1’: Television satellite blasts off into space

Written by on June 23, 2017 in Business - Comments Off on ‘BulgariaSat-1’: Television satellite blasts off into space

The first geostationary satellite owned by Bulgarians, ‘BulgariaSat-1’, blasted off into space today, on a Falcon 9 rocket provided and operated by the American company SpaceX. The fuelling of the rocket had started at around 15:15 hrs. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT), or 21:15 hrs. Bulgarian time.

Shortly before, SpaceX had run ground system checks and confirmed that both the rocket and the payload, meaning the satellite, had been in “good health”.

For Falcon 9 launches, the countdown process typically starts one hour and 13 minutes before liftoff. That is when the launch conductor takes a so-called readiness poll. Shortly after, if all systems are “go”, which was the case here, rocket grade kerosene is being filled into the rocket’s tanks. The engine ignition takes place three seconds before lift-off, after the health of the rocket was confirmed again.

The Bulgarian satellite will enter an orbit located 36,000 kilometers from Earth, in order to serve its purpose, which is spreading high quality TV programmes.

A long wait had preceded today’s launch. It had been postponed several times. In December of 2016, the original launch date passed, while the satellite had not been ready yet. A week ago, a small technical issue with the rocket prevented a launch. Today, everything seemed to work. Even the weather at Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral (Florida) was favourable.

BulgariaSat-1, packed into a compartment on top of the Falcon 9 rocket, shortly before liftoff.

The launch site has an interesting history, since Apollo and Space Shuttle missions started there as well.

Before the launch, the CEO of the company BulgariaSat and its affiliate Bulsatcom, Maxim Zayakov, thanked SpaceX for making space projects possible for small countries as well as companies like his.

The Falcon 9 rocket used to carry the Bulgarian satellite into space had been in space before. Therefore, it is a so-called proven rocket. SpaceX gives customers a 10 percent discount, when they agree to accept used rockets.

‘BulgariaSat-1’ is supposed to provide TV signals for Bulsatcom subscribers in Bulgaria and elsewhere in Europe. Its owners have already said they might want to send a second satellite into space, in a few years from now.

For SpaceX, this will likely become a very exciting weekend, with a total of two rocket launches. On Sunday, an Iridium satellite is supposed to lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, on board another Falcon 9 rocket.

Photos: ‘BulgariaSat-1’ on a Falcon 9 rocket, shortly before the launch, by SpaceX.

 

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Imanuel Marcus, the founder of foreignersandfriends.com, is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe.