SpaceX will launch Qatar’s Es’hail-2 spacecraft Thursday, using a Falcon 9 rocket into to place the communications satellite orbit. Falcon will lift off from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center during a 101-minute window that opens at 15:46 Eastern Time (20:46 UTC). Thursday’s mission will use a flight-proven Falcon 9 booster, making its second mission.
Thursday’s launch marks SpaceX’s first mission for the State of Qatar. The Japanese-built Es’hail-2 satellite will be operated by the state-owned Qatar Satellite Company, also known as Es’hailSat. Falcon 9 will place the Es’hail-2 into a geosynchronous transfer orbit, with the satellite expected to then reach its final slot in geostationary orbit under its own power.
Es’hail-2 will be the first dedicated Qatari satellite from launch. The Middle-Eastern state’s existing Es’hail-1 satellite was launched as a joint-venture between Es’hailSat and French telecommunications operator Eutelsat, with the Qataris buying-out their partners earlier this year. Es’hail-1, which was formerly also known as Eutelsat 25B, was deployed by a European Ariane 5ECA rocket in August 2013. Stationed at 25 degrees East, the Es’hail-1 satellite was expected to operate for at least fifteen years from launch.
The Es’hail-2 satellite will be located close to Es’hail-1, taking up station at 26 degrees ...