SpaceX Launches SES-22 C-Band Replacement Satellite

TAMPA, Fla. SpaceX launched the first broadcast television satellite under SES’s C-band clearing plan from Cape Canaveral in Florida on June 29.

A Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 5:04 p.m. Eastern with the SES-22 satellite, which will help SES make billions of dollars freeing up C-band frequencies for U.S. 5G networks.

SES-22 separated from the rocket in geostationary orbit about 33 minutes later.

The Falcon 9 reusable first stage has successfully landed on a SpaceX drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean after launch.

The booster supported a mission for Starlink, SpaceX’s broadband megaconstellation, earlier in May.

SES-22 is the first to launch six geostationary satellites that SES has ordered to migrate broadcast customers to a narrower swath of the C-band.

SES and other C bandholders are lining up for a total of $9.7 billion from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) if they meet the deadlines to clear 300 MHz of spectrum.

The 3,500 kilogram SES-22 satellite was built by Thales Alenia Space, which is also building the company’s SES-23 C-band replacement satellite.

Northrop Grumman and Boeing are also building two C-band satellites each for SES.

United Launch Alliance will launch two SES C-band replacement satellites in the third quarter of 2022, and SpaceX will launch two more later this year.

The sixth satellite is used as a ground reserve.

SES said June. 24, it remains on track to meet the FCC’s December 2023 spectrum clearing deadline.

SES and Intelsat, which together have the largest share of C-band in the United States, have successfully unlocked more than $2 billion in combined revenue by achieving an FCC first milestone last year.

Intelsat and SES will receive a total of $4.9 billion and $3.97 billion, respectively, under the FCC’s plan.

However, the satellite operators remain embroiled in a long-running legal dispute over their share of the revenue.

The dispute stems from Intelsat’s withdrawal from their C-Band Alliance, where SES says the competitors agreed to split the proceeds of freeing up the spectrum evenly.

Intelsat argues that their agreement ceased to apply when the FCC decided to hold a public auction of C-band spectrum, rather than a private C-Band Alliance process.

Intelsat ordered seven satellites for its C-band clearing plan and has Arianespace and SpaceX lined up for launches beginning in 2022.

Maxar Technologies is building four C-band replacement satellites for Intelsat and Northrop Grumman is building the other two. None of the seven is intended as a land reserve.

Galaxy 33 and Galaxy 34, Intelsat’s first two C-band replacement satellites, will launch on a Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral in October.

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