SpaceX is counting down to its third Eutelsat launch in six weeks – Spaceflight Now

Live streaming of the countdown and launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Space Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida. A Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Eutelsat 10B broadband satellite for aeronautical and maritime communications. Follow us Twitter.

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SpaceX’s oldest operating Falcon 9 rocket, in service since 2018, will make its final flight Monday night to deliver the Eutelsat broadband satellite into orbit with a mission to provide Internet services to aircraft and ships across the North Atlantic, Europe and the Middle East. , and Africa. The mission will complete a series of four major Eutelsat satellite launches since early September.

The Eutelsat 10B satellite is scheduled to lift off atop a Falcon 9 rocket at 9:57 p.m. EST Monday (02:57 GMT Tuesday) from Pad 40 at the Space Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Eutelsat 10B is directed to a point in geostationary orbit to transmit communications signals across a coverage area from the North Atlantic to Asia, using more than 100 spot beams to communicate with airline and cruise ship passengers, marine crews and other users en route. .

SpaceX will not rebuild the Falcon 9 rocket’s 229-foot-tall (70-meter) first stage. The launch company has entered into an agreement with Eutelsat to use the Falcon 9’s full lift capabilities to send the Eutelsat 10B satellite into as high an orbit as possible with no redundancy or first stage fuel for landing maneuvers.

According to the official forecast from the US Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron, there is only a 30% chance of favorable weather for the launch on Monday night.

“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.

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

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.

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 for planes and ships across 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.

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.

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

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.

During Monday night’s countdown, the Falcon 9 launcher will be filled with a million pounds of gas and liquid oxygen in the final 35 minutes before liftoff.

Provided the teams check that all technical and weather parameters are “green” for launch, the nine Merlin 1D main engines on the launch vehicle’s first stage will be fired to life using an ignition fluid called triethylaluminum/triethylborane, or TEA-TEB. Once the engines are at full throttle, the hydraulic clamps will open to release the Falcon 9 for liftoff into space.

The nine main engines will generate 1.7 million pounds of thrust for more than two and a half minutes, propelling Falcon 9 and Eutelsat 10B into the upper atmosphere. The booster stage will then disengage and separate from the Falcon 9 upper stage to begin an uncontrolled descent into the Atlantic.

The booster is not equipped with SpaceX recovery hardware such as titanium fins or landing legs. And SpaceX has not deployed one of its unmanned craft for an expendable mission.

SpaceX is expected to attempt to recover the payload fairing of the Falcon 9 rocket after the two halves of the nose cone are parachuted into the sea off Cape Canaveral. The payload fairing will drop from the rocket about three and a half minutes into flight, shortly after the Falcon 9’s upper stage engine ignites.

The Falcon 9 rocket will fire its booster engine twice to launch the Eutelsat 10B spacecraft into an elliptical supersynchronous orbit, after which the satellite will spin out of the rocket. Eutelsat 10B will deploy its solar panels and begin maneuvers with the on-board electric propulsion system to circle its orbit at a geostationary altitude of about 22,000 miles above the equator.

ROCKET: Falcon 9 (B1049.11)

PAYLOAD: Eutelsat 10B communications satellite

LAUNCH SITE: SLC-40, Space Force Station at Cape Canaveral, Florida

LAUNCH DATE: November 21, 2022

LAUNCH TIME: 21:57 EST (02:57 GMT)

WEATHER FORECAST: 30% chance of fair weather



TARGET ORBIT: Supersynchronous transfer orbit


    • T+00:00: Start
    • T+01:16: Maximum aerodynamic pressure (Max-Q)
    • T+02:43: First stage main engine shutdown (MECO)
    • T+02:47: Splitting the scene
    • T+02:54: Second stage engine ignition
    • T+03:36: Fairing jettisoning
    • T+08:05: Second stage engine shutdown (SECO 1)
    • T+26:18: Second stage engine restart
    • T+27:27: Second stage engine shutdown (SECO 2)
    • T+35:28: Eutelsat 10B separation


  • 186th Falcon 9 launch since 2010
  • The 195th launch of the Falcon family of rockets since 2006
  • The 11th launch of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle B1049
  • 159th Falcon 9 launch from Florida’s Space Coast
  • The 104th Falcon 9 launch from Pad 40
  • 159th launch overall from site 40
  • The 127th flight of a reusable Falcon 9 launch vehicle
  • SpaceX’s fifth launch for Eutelsat
  • 52nd Falcon 9 launch in 2022
  • SpaceX’s 53rd launch in 2022
  • 51st orbital launch attempt from Cape Canaveral in 2022

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Follow Stephen Clarke on Twitter: @StephenClark1. SpaceX is counting down to its third Eutelsat launch in six weeks – Spaceflight Now

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