Eutelsat satellite gets final ride on SpaceX’s oldest operating Falcon 9 launch vehicle – Spaceflight Now

Eutelsat 10B communications satellite at the antenna test site at Thales Alenia Space in Cannes, France. Author: Eutelsat

Europe’s 12,000-pound broadband satellite, designed to beam Internet signals to planes and ships, is poised to blast off into a high-altitude orbit from Cape Canaveral Monday night, marking the 11th and final flight of SpaceX’s oldest active Falcon 9 launch vehicle. The rocket will devote all its lifting capacity to the deployment of the Eutelsat 10B satellite to the highest possible orbit.

The Eutelsat 10B satellite is strapped for launch inside the 229-foot (70-meter) nose cone of a Falcon 9 rocket. Liftoff from Pad 40 at the Space Force Station at Cape Canaveral is scheduled for 9:57 p.m. EST Monday (02:57 GMT Tuesday), but there is only a 30% chance of favorable weather for the launch, according to the official 45th Weather Forecast US Space Force Review Squadron.

“Today, cloudy weather with easterly winds and isolated showers will remain on the territory of the spaceport,” the forecasting team said on Monday. “Launch weather issues are the thick cloud rule, the cumulus cloud rule, and the disturbed weather rule.”

If the launch is delayed until Tuesday evening, conditions are forecast to deteriorate, with only a 10% chance of favorable weather for takeoff. A few miles north of Pad 40, SpaceX is preparing another Falcon 9 rocket to launch Tuesday from the Kennedy Space Center to resupply the International Space Station. The weather forecast for this launch, set for 15:54 EST (2054 GMT) on Tuesday, is also questionable with a 30% chance of acceptable conditions for takeoff.

Eutelsat 10B will deploy from the upper stage of a Falcon 9 rocket approximately 35 minutes after launch. The rocket will aim to put the spacecraft into a “supersynchronous” transfer orbit with an apogee, or farthest point from Earth, well above Eutelsat 10B’s final operating altitude of 22,000 miles (almost 36,000 kilometers). The target apogee of the Eutelsat 10B mission when the spacecraft is deployed will be above 37,000 miles, or about 60,000 kilometers, according to Pascal Homsi, Eutelsat’s chief technical officer.

Instead of saving some of its fuel for landing on an unmanned craft, the Falcon 9 first stage launch vehicle will run its nine main engines for a few seconds longer than usual, giving the rocket an extra boost in speed. This will allow the Falcon 9 second stage engine to launch the Eutelsat 10B satellite into a higher orbit than would otherwise be possible.

SpaceX still plans to retrieve two halves of the Falcon 9 rocket’s payload fairing for refurbishing and reuse.

A spokesman for Thales Alenia Space, maker of Eutelsat 10B, said deploying the satellite in a supersynchronous orbit would reduce the time needed to reach the final operational geostationary orbit by about 10 days. Based on the Thales Spacebus Neo satellite platform, Eutelsat 10B will use plasma thrusters to make the orbit adjustments needed to round its orbit at a geostationary altitude of 22,000 miles above the equator, where it will circle the Earth in step with the planet’s rotation.

An artist’s concept of the Eutelsat 10B satellite with its antennas and solar arrays deployed in orbit. Author: Thales Alenia Space

The total launch mass of Eutelsat 10B is about 5.5 metric tons, or about 12,000 pounds, a Thales spokesperson told Spaceflight Now on Monday.

The expendable Falcon 9 mission will be the third time this month that SpaceX has gotten rid of a Falcon launch vehicle, following the intentional disposal of the Falcon Heavy main stage on Nov. 1 and the Falcon 9 launch vehicle during the Nov. 12 mission. The Nov. 12 mission launched two communications satellites for Intelsat, which said it paid a premium for Falcon 9’s extra performance, leading to the launch vehicle’s disposal in the Atlantic Ocean.

“The reason Eutelsat is choosing a disposable launch vehicle for this mission is the mass of the satellite, which requires the full fuel capacity and additional characteristics of the Falcon 9 rocket and proper orbit,” Homsi said in response to Spaceflight Now. written questions.

Homsi declined to say how much Eutelsat paid SpaceX for the additional Falcon 9 performance during the Eutelsat 10B mission.

Once in geostationary orbit next year, Eutelsat 10B will head into an operational position along the equator at 10 degrees east longitude. The satellite will add Internet connectivity to planes and ships on the high-traffic North Atlantic corridor between Europe and North America. Eutelsat 10B will also provide similar services in Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East, according to Eutelsat, the owner and operator of the satellites in Paris.

Eutelsat 10B carries two high Ku-band multibeam payloads for aeronautical and maritime Internet services. The two payloads have 116 spot beams capable of handling more than 50 GHz of bandwidth and delivering approximately 35 gigabits per second, according to Eutelsat.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, equipped with the B1049 booster first stage, blasts off into space during its preflight on May 4, 2021. Photo credit: SpaceX

The satellite also carries two wide-beam C-band and Ku-band payloads to augment the services currently provided by the aging Eutelsat 10A satellite, which was launched in 2009.

Eutelsat 10B is scheduled to be operational in the summer of 2023, Homsi said.

The launch of Eutelsat 10B is Eutelsat’s fourth major communications satellite launch in the past two and a half months, following the Eutelsat Konnect VHTS satellite launched in September on an Ariane 5 rocket. Two Hotbird TV broadcast satellites join the Eutelsat fleet following launches from Florida on rockets Falcon 9 in October and earlier this month.

“It’s quite a challenge for Eutelsat’s engineering teams to tackle this challenge,” Homsi said.

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Follow Stephen Clarke on Twitter: @StephenClark1. Eutelsat satellite gets final ride on SpaceX’s oldest operating Falcon 9 launch vehicle – Spaceflight Now

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