SpaceX Launches TV Broadcast Satellite for Eutelsat – Spaceflight Now

Live coverage of the countdown and launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida. The Falcon 9 rocket will launch Eutelsat’s Hotbird 13G geostationary communications satellite. Follow us Twitter.

sfn live

SpaceX is set to launch a Falcon 9 rocket early Thursday from Cape Canaveral with Eutelsat’s Hotbird 13G television broadcast satellite. Liftoff is planned for the end of the evening launch window at 1:22 am EDT (0522 GMT). The Falcon 9’s first-stage booster will be targeted for landing on a lower-ranking unmanned ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

Ground crews brought the Falcon 9 to pad 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Wednesday, a day after SpaceX launched a powerful Falcon Heavy rocket from pad 39A just a few miles offshore. The 229-foot-tall (70-meter) Falcon 9 soared vertically on pad 40 Wednesday afternoon ahead of the overnight launch window.

Meteorologists with the US Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron forecast a 90% chance of favorable weather for liftoff, with only a small chance of cumulus clouds that could create a lightning threat.

Built by Airbus, the approximately 10,000-pound (4.5-metric-ton) Hotbird 13G spacecraft will broadcast hundreds of television and radio channels across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Hotbird 13G is the sister satellite to Hotbird 13F, which was launched on October 1. 15 on a previous SpaceX Falcon 9 mission. The two Hotbirds are the first satellites built on Airbus’ new Eurostar Neo spacecraft design, incorporating improvements to the propulsion, thermal and electrical control systems.

During Thursday morning’s countdown, the Falcon 9 launcher will be filled with one million pounds of kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants in the last 35 minutes before liftoff.

After the teams verify that the technical and meteorological parameters are all “green” for launch, the nine Merlin 1D main engines in the first stage booster will ignite with the help of an ignition fluid called triethylaluminum/triethylborane, or TEA-TEB. Once the engines are up to full throttle, the hydraulic clamps will open to release the Falcon 9 for its ascent into space.

The nine main engines will produce 1.7 million pounds of thrust for approximately two and a half minutes, propelling Eutelsat’s Falcon 9 and Hotbird 13G communications satellite into the upper atmosphere. Then the booster stage, tail number B1067 in the SpaceX fleet, will power down and separate from the Falcon 9 upper stage.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket on Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral awaiting liftoff with the Hotbird 13G communications satellite. Credit: Space Flight Now

The booster will extend titanium grid fins and pulsed cold gas thrusters to orient itself for a tail entry into the atmosphere, before re-firing its engines for a braking burn and final landing burn, targeting a descent. vertical to the unmanned ship “Justo”. Read the instructions” stationed about 420 miles (about 675 kilometers) east of Cape Canaveral.

A successful landing of the rocket on the unmanned spacecraft will mark the completion of the booster’s seventh flight into space. The booster debuted on June 3, 2021, with the launch of a Dragon cargo mission to the International Space Station, launching two crews of astronauts into space on NASA’s Crew-3 and Crew-4 missions. It also launched the Turksat 5B communications satellite, another space station resupply mission and, most recently, a batch of Starlink internet satellites on September 1. 18

For the Hotbird 13G mission, the Falcon 9 rocket will fire its upper stage engine twice to inject the spacecraft into an elliptical geostationary transfer orbit with an apogee, or high point, more than 30,000 miles (50,000 kilometers) above the earth.

Hotbird 13G will separate from the Falcon 9 rocket about 36 minutes into the mission.

After being deployed from the Falcon 9 launcher to begin its journey to geostationary orbit, Hotbird 13G deploys solar panels and uses PPS5000 plasma orbit-raising thrusters developed by the French company Safran during several months of orbit-raising maneuvers to reach a circular geostationary orbit of more than 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers) above the equator.

The fuel-efficient plasma propulsion system relies on xenon gas and electricity to generate thrust, rather than a conventional liquid rocket fuel like hydrazine. That reduces the weight of the satellite, allowing engineers to launch a smaller rocket or add additional payloads to support greater communications capacity for customers.

But raising the orbit with electric propulsion takes longer than maneuvers that rely on conventional rocket engines.

Hotbird 13G, like its predecessor, Hotbird 13F, will orbit in unison with Earth’s rotation at 13 degrees east longitude.

This map illustrates the ground track of the Falcon 9 rocket, heading east from Cape Canaveral to place the Hotbird 13G communications satellite into geostationary transfer orbit. The “Just Read Instructions” drone location is labeled here. Credit: Space Flight Now

By the middle of next year, Hotbird 13G should be ready to enter commercial service to begin a 15-year mission transmitting television programming to Eutelsat customers. Thanks to improvements in satellite communications technology, Eutelsat will only need two new Hotbird satellites to replace the three aging Hotbird spacecraft operating at 13 degrees East.

Pascal Homsy, Eutelsat’s technical director, said that the Hotbird fleet at 13 degrees East forms the largest capacity satellite transmission system covering the Europe, Middle East and North Africa regions, delivering 1,000 TV channels to more than 160 million homes. Hotbird 13F and 13G will transmit signals on Ku band frequencies.

“We have something like 600+ pay TV channels, 300 free channels, 450 HD TV and 14 ultra HD channels broadcast from this flagship 13 degrees east position,” Homsy said last month ahead of the launch. of Hotbird 13F. “We can also provide 500 radio stations and multimedia services.”

The launch of Hotbird 13G will mark SpaceX’s 51st mission of 2022 and the second in a series of three Falcon 9 flights for Eutelsat. The Eutelsat 10B communications satellite, designed to provide in-flight Internet connectivity to airline passengers, was delivered from Europe to Cape Canaveral by ship last week for launch on a Falcon 9 rocket later this month.

The Hotbird 13G communications satellite is placed inside its shipping container before leaving its factory in Toulouse, France. Credit: Airbus Defense and Space

ROCKET: Falcon 9 (B1067.7)

USEFUL LOAD: Communications satellite Hotbird 13G

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

RELEASE DATE: Nov. 2/3, 2022

START WINDOW: 23:26 – 01:22 EDT (0326-0522 GMT)

WEATHER FORECAST: 90% chance of acceptable time

BOOSTER RECOVERY: Unmanned craft “Just read the instructions”


TARGET ORBIT: Geostationary Transfer Orbit


  • T+00:00: Takeoff
  • T+01:12: Maximum aerodynamic pressure (Max-Q)
  • T+02:32: First stage main engine cut-off (MECO)
  • T+02:35: Separation of stages
  • T+02:43: Second stage engine ignition
  • T+03:23: Fairing Removal
  • T+06:30: First stage inlet burn ignition (three engines)
  • T+06:55: First stage input firing ends
  • T+08:08: Second stage engine cutoff (DRY 1)
  • T+08:22: Ignition by burning on landing of the first stage (one engine)
  • T+08:44: Landing first stage
  • T+29:11: Second stage engine reset
  • T+30:10: Second stage motor cut-off (DRY 2)
  • T+36:11: Hotbird 13G Separation


  • 184th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket since 2010
  • 193rd launch of the Falcon rocket family since 2006
  • 7th Falcon 9 B1067 booster launch
  • 157th launch of the Falcon 9 from the Florida Space Coast
  • Launch of the 102nd Falcon 9 from Pad 40
  • 157th overall launch from platform 40
  • Flight 125 of a repurposed Falcon 9 booster
  • SpaceX’s fourth launch for Eutelsat
  • 50th Falcon 9 launch of 2022
  • SpaceX 51st launch in 2022
  • 48th Cape Canaveral-based orbital launch attempt in 2022

Email the author.

Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

About the author


Leave a Comment