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SES 20



The SES 20 and 21 satellites are nearly identical, and were manufactured by Boeing in El Segundo, California. Each satellite uses all-electric propulsion for in-orbit maneuvers, and were built on Boeing’s 702SP satellite platform.

The Atlas 5’s guidance computer aimed to release the two spacecraft in a circular orbit roughly 21,750 miles (about 35,000 kilometers), just below geostationary altitude, at an inclination angle of 1.9 degrees to the equator. ULA said the Atlas 5 rocket’s Centaur upper stage delivered the satellites to an on-target orbit, and SES confirmed both spacecraft were alive and healthy following launch.

After separating from the Atlas 5’s Centaur upper stage, SES 20 and 21 will unfurl their solar panels and run through post-launch checkouts. They will use plasma thrusters to fine-tune their orbits and slide into their operating positions in geostationary orbit.

SES 20 will maneuver into a position along the equator at 103 degrees west longitude, while SES 21 will head for 131 degrees west longitude. Both satellites will provide C-band television and radio broadcast services over the United States. SES 20 and 21 are part of a program to redirect television communications services to a different part of the C-band spectrum, following the Federal Communications Commission’s decision in 2020 to clear 300 megahertz of spectrum for the roll-out of 5G mobile connectivity networks.

The FCC auctioned U.S. C-band spectrum — previously used for satellite-based video broadcast services to millions of customers — to 5G operators, which are paying satellite operators like SES through multibillion-dollar compensation agreements. SES and Intelsat, another large geostationary satellite operator, purchased new C-band broadcasting satellites to function in the narrower swath of spectrum.

In 2020, SES ordered six new C-band satellites, including a spare, and Intelsat procured seven C-band satellites. SES says the new C-band satellites will enable the broadcast of digital TV services to nearly 120 million homes in the United States.

Alternate Names

  • 53960
  • SES20

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 2022-10-04
Launch Vehicle: Atlas V
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States

Funding Agency

  • SES (United States)


  • Communications

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office

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