Live coverage of the countdown to the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida. A Falcon 9 rocket launched the Eutelsat 10B broadband communications satellite for air and sea communications. Follow us Twitter.
SpaceX’s oldest active Falcon 9 booster rocket, in service since 2018, made its final flight Tuesday night to deliver a Eutelsat broadband communications satellite into orbit on a mission to provide internet services to planes and ships across the North Atlantic, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The mission has completed a series of four major launches of the Eutelsat satellites since early September.
The Eutelsat 10B satellite lifted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket at 9:57 p.m. EDT (0257 GMT Wednesday) from Platform 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Eutelsat 10B heads toward perch in geostationary orbit to send communications signals across a coverage area from the North Atlantic to Asia, using more than 100 light beams to connect airline passengers, cruise ships, marine crews and other users on the move.
SpaceX said Monday night’s launch attempt was deleted two hours before liftoff “to allow for additional pre-flight exit.” SpaceX defied the odds Tuesday night after forecasters predicted a 90% chance of unacceptable weather conditions for a launch.
SpaceX did not attempt to recover the 229-foot (70-meter) Falcon 9 first stage. The launch company has entered into an agreement with Eutelsat to devote all of the Falcon 9’s lift capacity to sending the Eutelsat 10B satellite as high as possible into orbit, without first-stage reservation and payment for landing maneuvers.
A few miles north of Platform 40, SpaceX intended to launch a Falcon 9 rocket earlier Tuesday to begin its 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 deployed from the Falcon 9 upper stage approximately 35 minutes after launch. The rocket is intended to launch the spacecraft into a “highly synchronous” transfer orbit with an apogee, or farthest point from Earth, well above Eutelsat 10B’s final operating altitude of 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 km). The Eutelsat 10B mission’s maximum spacecraft deployment target was more than 37,000 miles, or about 60,000 kilometers, according to Pascal Homsi, Eutelsat’s chief technical officer.
Instead of conserving some propellant for landing on the drone ship, the Falcon 9 first-stage booster burned its nine main engines a few seconds longer than normal, giving an extra boost of speed to the rocket’s upper stage. This allowed the Falcon 9 second stage engine to put the Eutelsat 10B satellite into a higher orbit than would otherwise be possible.
SpaceX still plans to recover both halves of the Falcon 9 payload payload for refurbishment and reuse.
A spokesman for Thales Alenia Space, the manufacturer of Eutelsat 10B, said that deploying the satellite in a hypersynchronous transfer orbit would shorten the time to reach its operational geostationary orbit by about 10 days. Based on Thales’ Spacebus Neo satellite platform, Eutelsat 10B will use plasma thrusters to make the orbit adjustments needed to orbit at a geostationary altitude of 22,000 miles above the equator, where it will orbit the Earth in a step close to the planet’s rotation.
The total launch mass for Eutelsat 10B is about 5.5 metric tons, or roughly 12,000 pounds, a Thales spokesperson told Spaceflight Now on Monday.
The Falcon 9 expendable mission marked the third time this month that SpaceX has discarded a Falcon booster, after intentionally discarding a core stage on its Falcon Heavy rocket on November 1 and the Falcon 9 spacecraft on a mission on November 12. The Nov. 12 mission lifted two communications satellites for Intelsat, which it said paid a premium for the extra performance from the Falcon 9, dumping the booster in the Atlantic Ocean.
“The reason Eutelsat chose the expendable booster for this mission is the satellite’s mass, which requires the full fuel capacity and additional performance of a Falcon 9 rocket and proper orbital injection,” Homsi told Spaceflight Now. Written questions.
Homsi declined to say how much Eutelsat paid SpaceX for the additional performance from the Falcon 9 on the Eutelsat 10B mission, if any.
Once in geostationary orbit next year, Eutelsat 10B will orient itself to an operating location along the equator at 10 degrees east longitude. The satellite will add capacity to internet services for aircraft and ships across the busy North Atlantic passage between Europe and North America. Eutelsat 10B will also provide similar services across Europe, the Mediterranean basin and the Middle East, according to Eutelsat, the owner and operator of the satellites in Paris.
Eutelsat 10B carries two Ku-band payloads across the band for air and sea internet services. Eutelsat said these two payloads contain 116 spot beams capable of handling more than 50GHz of bandwidth, providing approximately 35Gbps.
The satellite also hosts two broadband C beam payloads and one Ku-band payload to extend the services currently provided by the Eutelsat 10A satellite launched in 2009.
Homsi said that the Eutelsat 10B satellite is scheduled to enter service in the summer of 2023.
The launch of the Eutelsat 10B satellite also marks the fourth major Eutelsat communications satellite to be launched in the past two and a half months, starting with the Eutelsat Konnect VHTS satellite that was launched in September on an Ariane 5 rocket. Two Hotbird broadcast television satellites joined the Eutelsat fleet after two rocket launches Falcon 9 from Florida in October and earlier this month.
“It is a big challenge for the Eutelsat engineering teams, who were up to the challenge,” Homsi said.
During the countdown on Tuesday night, the Falcon 9 bomber filled with 1 million pounds of kerosene fuel and liquid oxygen in the last 35 minutes before liftoff.
After teams verified that technical parameters and weather were all “green” for launch, the nine Merlin 1D main engines in the first-stage booster flashed with the help of an ignition fluid called triethylaluminium/triethylborane, or TEA-TEB. Once the engines were boosted to full throttle, the hydraulic clamps opened to free the Falcon 9 for its climb 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 an uncontrolled fall into the Atlantic Ocean.
The booster was not fitted with SpaceX’s proprietary recuperators, such as titanium mesh fins or landing legs. And SpaceX did not deploy one of its unmanned ships for the consuming mission.
A SpaceX rescue ship was on station to recover the payload for a Falcon 9 rocket after halves of a cone-nose clamshell parachuted into the sea from Cape Canaveral. The payload was jettisoned from the rocket about three and a half minutes into flight, shortly after the Falcon 9’s upper stage engine ignited.
The Falcon 9 rocket fired the upper stage engine twice to inject the Eutelsat 10B spacecraft into a hyper-elliptical synchronous transfer orbit, and then the satellite was deployed from the rocket. Eutelsat 10B will rotate its solar panels and begin maneuvers with an onboard electric propulsion system to bring it into a geostationary orbit about 22,000 miles above the equator.
Rocket: Falcon 9 (B1049.11)
Payload: Eutelsat 10B communications satellite
Launch site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Station, Florida
Lunch date: November 22, 2022
launch time: 9:57 PM EDT (0257 GMT on November 23)
weather forecast: 10% chance of acceptable weather
Recovery from boost: no one
AZIMUTH LAUNCH: east
target orbit: Super synchronous transfer orbit
- T+00:00: take off
- T+01:16: Max Air Pressure (Max-Q)
- T+02:43: Main Engine Cut Off (MECO) First Stage
- T+02:47: Separation phase
- T+02:54: Second stage engine ignition
- T+03:36: Quiet out
- T+08:05: Second stage engine cut off (SECO 1)
- T+26:18: Second stage engine restart
- T+27:27: Second Stage Engine Cut Off (SECO 2)
- T+35:28: Separation of Eutelsat 10B
- The 186th launch of the Falcon 9 since 2010
- The 195th launch of the Falcon family since 2006
- Eleventh launch of Falcon 9 Booster B1049
- Falcon 9 launch 159th from the Florida Space Coast
- The 104th Falcon 9 launch from pad 40
- 159th launch overall from the 40th board
- Flight 127 of the repurposed Falcon 9 booster
- SpaceX’s fifth Eutelsat launch
- Falcon 9 launch number 52 for the year 2022
- SpaceX launch #53 in 2022
- Attempted orbital launch 51 from Cape Canaveral in 2022
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