CBSNews.com described the launch and mission as follows, “With an ever-increasing demand for internet access, EchoStar launched a powerful new communications satellite late Friday atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket that will deliver broadband service across nearly 80% of North and South America.
Running two days later after a last-minute scrub Wednesday, the Falcon Heavy’s first stage, made up of three strapped-together Falcon 9 boosters, roared to life with a sky-lighting burst of flaming exhaust at 11:04 p.m. Eastern time.
An instant later, with its 27 engine generating more than five million pounds of thrust, the rocket majestically climbed away from historic pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, putting on a spectacular overnight show for area residents and tourists as it arced away to the east over the Atlantic Ocean.
Two-and-a-half minutes later, the two side boosters, making their third flight each, peeled away, reversed course and flew back to the launch site, carrying out equally spectacular side-by-side landings at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station as shotgun-like sonic booms rumbled across the Space Coast.
The central core stage, meanwhile, was discarded a few moments after the side boosters departed, and the flight continued on the power of the single engine powering the Falcon Heavy’s second stage. Three upper stage engine firings over the next three-and-a-half hours were required to reach the planned deploy orbit.
If all goes well, the Jupiter 3 satellite’s on-board thrusters will circularize the orbit at an altitude of 22,300 miles above the equator at 95 degrees west longitude. At that “geosynchronous” altitude, the satellite will take 24 hours to complete one orbit, appearing stationary above the western hemisphere.
Tipping the scales at more than nine tons, Jupiter 3, also known as EchoStar 24, is believed to be the heaviest commercial communications satellite ever launched. With solar panels stretching 127 feet from tip to tip, the bus-size satellite will provide broadband service through EchoStar’s subsidiary, Hughes Network Systems. Xplorenet Communications, a long-time Hughes partner, will provide service across Canada.
EchoStar’s satellites represent an alternative approach to space-based internet, using a few, very powerful high-altitude data relay stations as opposed to thousands of small low-Earth orbit satellites like SpaceX’s Starlink system and Amazon’s planned Kuiper satellites.”
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