SpaceX launches Falcon 9 rocket with Eutelsat 10B satellite – Spaceflight now

Live coverage of the countdown and launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida. The Falcon 9 rocket launched the Eutelsat 10B broadband communications satellite for air and sea connectivity. follow us Twitter.

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SpaceX’s oldest active Falcon 9 rocket booster, in service since 2018, made its final flight Tuesday night to launch a Eutelsat broadband communications satellite into orbit on a mission to provide internet services to planes and ships in the North Atlantic, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa The mission completed a series of four major satellite launches for Eutelsat since early September.

The Eutelsat 10B satellite lifted off on a Falcon 9 rocket at 9:57 pm EST Tuesday (02:57 GMT Wednesday) from Pad 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Eutelsat 10B heads into a geostationary orbit hanger to transmit communications signals across a coverage area from the North Atlantic to Asia, using more than 100 spot beams to connect airline and cruise ship passengers, marine crews and other users over the March. . .

A launch attempt on Monday night was scrapped a couple of hours before liftoff to “allow for additional pre-flight checks,” SpaceX said. And SpaceX defied the odds Tuesday night after forecasters predicted a 90% chance of unacceptable weather conditions for launch.

SpaceX did not try to recover the first stage of the 70-meter (229-foot) Falcon 9 rocket. The launch company had an agreement with Eutelsat to dedicate the entire lift capacity of the Falcon 9 to send the Eutelsat 10B satellite to the highest possible orbit, unreserved and propellant in the first stage for landing maneuvers.

Just a few miles north of Pad 40, SpaceX had intended to launch a Falcon 9 rocket early Tuesday to begin a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. But bad weather prevented that flight from taking off from the Kennedy Space Center, delaying the mission until Saturday.

Eutelsat 10B was deployed from the upper stage of the Falcon 9 rocket about 35 minutes after launch. The rocket was intended to release the spacecraft into a “super synchronous” transfer orbit with an apogee, or the furthest point from Earth, well above Eutelsat 10B’s final operating altitude of 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers). . The target apogee for the Eutelsat 10B mission in the spacecraft deployment was above 37,000 miles, or about 60,000 kilometers, according to Pascal Homsy, Eutelsat’s technical director.

Instead of reserving some of its propellant for unmanned landing, the Falcon 9’s first stage propellant burned its nine main engines a few seconds longer than usual, giving the upper stage an extra burst of speed. of the rocket. That allowed the Falcon 9’s second-stage engine to put the Eutelsat 10B satellite into a higher orbit than would otherwise have been possible.

SpaceX still planned to recover the two halves of the Falcon 9 rocket’s payload fairing for restoration and reuse.

Artist’s conception of the Eutelsat 10B satellite with its antennas and solar panels deployed in orbit. Credit: Thales Alenia Space

A spokesman for Thales Alenia Space, the maker of Eutelsat 10B, said deploying the satellite into a super-synchronous transfer orbit will shorten the time it takes for it to reach its final operational geostationary orbit by about 10 days. Based on Thales’ Spacebus Neo satellite platform, Eutelsat 10B will use plasma thrusters for the orbit adjustments necessary to circularize its orbit at a geostationary altitude of 22,000 miles above the equator, where it will encircle Earth in time 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 marked the third time this month that SpaceX has ditched a Falcon rocket booster, following the intentional removal of a core stage on a Falcon Heavy rocket on November 1. 1 and a Falcon 9 booster on a mission on November 1. 12. November 12. 12 launched two communications satellites for Intelsat, which said it paid a premium for the Falcon 9’s extra performance, resulting in the drive being removed in the Atlantic Ocean.

“The reason Eutelsat chooses a disposable propellant for this mission is because of the mass of the satellite, which requires the full fuel capacity and additional performance of the Falcon 9 rocket and proper in-orbit injection,” Homsy told Spaceflight Now in answer to written questions.

Homsy declined to say how much, if anything, Eutelsat paid SpaceX for the extra performance of Falcon 9 on the Eutelsat 10B mission.

Once in geostationary orbit next year, Eutelsat 10B will head to an operational position along the equator at 10 degrees east longitude. The satellite will add capacity for Internet connectivity services for aircraft and ships through the highly trafficked North Atlantic corridor between Europe and North America. Eutelsat 10B will also provide similar services in Europe, the Mediterranean basin and the Middle East, according to Eutelsat, the Paris-based satellite owner and operator.

Eutelsat 10B carries two multibeam high-range Ku-band payloads for maritime and aviation Internet services. These two payloads have 116 spot beams capable of processing more than 50 GHz of bandwidth and offer a total of about 35 gigabits per second, Eutelsat said.

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

Eutelsat 10B is scheduled to enter service in the summer of 2023, Homsy said.

The Eutelsat 10B communications satellite within an antenna test range at Thales Alenia Space in Cannes, France. Credit: Eutelsat

The launch of Eutelsat 10B also marked the launch of Eutelsat’s fourth major communications satellite in the last two and a half months, starting with the Eutelsat Konnect VHTS satellite which launched in September on an Ariane 5 rocket. Two Hotbird TV broadcast satellites they joined the Eutelsat fleet after launches from Florida on Falcon 9 rockets in October and earlier this month.

“Quite a challenge for the Eutelsat engineering teams, who have risen to the challenge,” Homsy said.

During the countdown on Tuesday night, the Falcon 9 launcher was filled with a million pounds of kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants in the last 35 minutes before liftoff.

After the teams verified that the technical and meteorological parameters were “green” for launch, the nine Merlin 1D main engines in the first stage booster were ignited with the aid of an ignition fluid called triethylaluminum/triethylborane, or TEA. -TEB. Once the engines reached full throttle, the hydraulic clamps opened to release the Falcon 9 for ascent into space.

The nine main engines produced 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 then shut down and separated from the Falcon 9 upper stage to begin a runaway plunge into the Atlantic.

The booster was not equipped with SpaceX’s recovery hardware, such as titanium grid fins or landing legs. And SpaceX didn’t deploy one of its drones for the expendable mission.

A SpaceX recovery craft was on station to recover the payload fairing of the Falcon 9 rocket after the two nose shell halves parachuted into the sea from Cape Canaveral. The payload fairing was ejected from the rocket about three and a half minutes into flight, shortly after the Falcon 9 upper stage engine ignited.

The Falcon 9 rocket fired its upper stage engine twice to inject the Eutelsat 10B spacecraft into a super-synchronous elliptical transfer orbit, then the satellite was deployed from the rocket. Eutelsat 10B will deploy its solar arrays and begin maneuvers with an onboard electric propulsion system to circle its orbit at a geostationary altitude of around 22,000 miles above the equator.

ROCKET: Falcon 9 (B1049.11)

USEFUL LOAD: Communications satellite Eutelsat 10B

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

RELEASE DATE: Nov 22, 2022

LUNCH TIME: 21:57 EST (02:57 GMT on November 23)

WEATHER FORECAST: 10% chance of acceptable weather



TARGET ORBIT: Super synchronous transfer orbit


    • T+00:00: Takeoff
    • T+01:16: Maximum aerodynamic pressure (Max-Q)
    • T+02:43: First stage main engine shutdown (MECO)
    • T+02:47: Separation of stages
    • T+02:54: Second stage engine ignition
    • T+03:36: Fairing removal
    • 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


  • Launch number 186 of a Falcon 9 rocket since 2010
  • 195th launch of the Falcon family of rockets since 2006
  • 11th launch of the Falcon 9 B1049 booster
  • Falcon 9 launch number 159 from Florida’s Space Coast
  • Launch of the 104th Falcon 9 from Pad 40
  • Launch 159 overall from platform 40
  • Flight 127 of a repurposed Falcon 9 booster
  • 5th SpaceX launch for Eutelsat
  • Falcon 9 52nd launch of 2022
  • SpaceX’s 53rd launch in 2022
  • 51st orbital launch attempt based at Cape Canaveral in 2022

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