Watch SpaceX launch a satellite even amateurs can use

If all goes according to plan Thursday, a Falcon 9 will carry a spacecraft to boost communications for the "hams" among us.

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Eric Mack
2 min read

Update, 1:32 p.m. PT: Thursday's SpaceX launch went off successfully. Read about it here

The next launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is set for Thursday at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The rocket will carry a payload designed to take amateur radio to new heights. 


A rendering of Es'hail-2 in orbit.


Elon Musk's space company will reportedly launch the reusable "Block 5" booster that was used in July's Telstar 19V mission. This time around, however, it will carry Qatar's Es'hail-2 satellite to geostationary orbit. 

Es'hail-2 was designed and built by Mitsubishi Electric in Japan to "boost broadband delivery, broadcasting and global connectivity in Qatar, the entire region and beyond," according to the Qatar Satellite Company

But the satellite also has a special feature: two transponders for amateur radio users, more commonly known as ham radio operators.

"Es'hail-2 will also provide the first Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT) geostationary communication capability that connects users across the visible globe in one single hop and in real-time," the statement reads. 

A number of amateur radio satellites are already in space, but almost all are in low-earth orbit. Es'hail-2 will operate much higher in a geostationary orbit where it will have a "view" of more than a third of the globe. That will allow for communications, for example, between India and Brazil for so-called "hams."

SpaceX plans to land the first stage of the Falcon 9 on its droneship, called "Of Course I Still Love You," which will be stationed offshore in the Atlantic Ocean.

As per usual SpaceX will stream the launch and landing via YouTube. Lift-off is set for 3:46 pm ET on Thursday, with live coverage set to start about fifteen minutes prior to launch. We will embed the stream when it becomes available.

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