SpaceX launched a telecommunications satellite into orbit and landed a rocket on a ship in the sea early Thursday (November 3).
A falcon 9 Rocket carrying Eutelsat’s Hotbird 13G satellite lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida space force Station on Thursday at 1:22 a.m. EDT (0522 GMT).
The Falcon 9 first stage returned to Earth just under nine minutes later, landing as planned on SpaceX’s Just Read the Instructions drone, which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
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It was the seventh launch and landing of this particular first stage.
“The Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this mission previously launched CRS-22, Crew-3, Turksat 5B, Crew-4, CRS-25 and a Starlink mission.” SpaceX wrote in a pre-launch mission description (opens in a new tab). (Crew-3 and Crew-4 were astronaut missions to the International Space Stationand CRS-22 and CRS-25 were uncrewed cargo flights to the orbiting laboratory).
Hotbird 13G, meanwhile, continued to fly over the Falcon 9 upper stage, which deployed the satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit just in time, about 36 minutes after liftoff.
The Hotbird 13G was built by Airbus Defense and Space and will be operated by the France-based telecommunications company. Eutelsat. The satellite will eventually settle into a geostationary orbit, about 22,300 miles (35,900 kilometers) above our planet.
Hotbird 13G will join its twin, Hotbird 13F, which launched into that patch of cosmic real estate aboard a Falcon 9 last month. The two spacecraft will replace the three existing Hotbird satellites, taking on quite a bit of responsibility.
The Hotbird family of satellites “forms one of the largest transmission systems in Europe, delivering 1,000 television channels to more than 160 million TV households in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.” Eutelsat representatives wrote (opens in a new tab).
The Hotbird 13G launch was the second SpaceX launched from the Florida Space Coast in a span of about two days. On Tuesday (November 1), Elon Musk’s company launched the USSF-44 mission for the US Space Force from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
USSF-44 employed a heavy falcon rocket, the most powerful launcher flying today. The mission was only the fourth for Falcon Heavy and the first since June 2019.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 2am EDT on November 15. 3 with news of successful launch, rocket landing and satellite deployment.
Mike Wall is the author of “out there (opens in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; Illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @migueldwall (opens in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacepointcom (opens in a new tab) or in Facebook (opens in a new tab).
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