Live coverage of the countdown and the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida. A Falcon 9 rocket will launch Eutelsat’s Hotbird 13G geostationary communications satellite. Follow us Twitter.
SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket at 1:22 a.m. EDT (0522 GMT) Thursday from Cape Canaveral with Eutelsat’s Hotbird 13G broadcasting satellite. The first stage of the Falcon 9 booster has landed on an unmanned ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
Ground teams rolled out a Falcon 9 to Platform 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Wednesday, the day after SpaceX launched a powerful Falcon Heavy rocket from Platform 39A a few miles off the coast. The 229-foot (70 m) Falcon 9 was lifted vertically onto Platform 40 on Wednesday afternoon before the nightly launch window.
Forecasters from the US Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron have predicted a 90% probability of favorable weather for liftoff, with only a small chance of cumulus clouds that might create a lightning threat.
The Airbus-built Hotbird 13G spacecraft, which weighs nearly 10,000 pounds (4.5 metric tons), will broadcast hundreds of television and radio channels across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Hotbird 13G is the twin Hotbird 13F satellite, launched October 15 on a previous mission to SpaceX Falcon 9. The Hotbirds are the first satellites to be built on the design of Airbus’ new Eurostar Neo spacecraft, incorporating upgrades in propulsion, thermal control and electrical systems.
During the countdown Thursday morning, the Falcon 9 launcher filled with 1 million pounds of kerosene fuel and liquid oxygen in the last 35 minutes before liftoff.
After teams verified that the technical and weather parameters were all “green” for the launch, the nine main Merlin 1D engines in the first stage of the spark booster flashed with the help of an ignition fluid called triethyl aluminum/triethylborane, or TEA-TEB. Once the engines were increased 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 about two and a half minutes, propelling Eutelsat’s Falcon 9 and Hotbird 13G communications satellite into the upper atmosphere. Then the boost stage – tail number B1067 in the SpaceX fleet – was closed and separated from the upper stage of the Falcon 9.
The booster extended titanium mesh fins and pulsed cold gas thrusters to orient themselves first to enter the atmosphere, before re-igniting their engines to burn the throttle and burn the final landing, targeting the vertical landing of the UAV ship “read only ‘instructions'” parked about 420 miles (about 675) kilometers) east of Cape Canaveral.
The successful landing of the rocket on the unmanned ship marked the completion of the seventh booster flight into space. The booster debuted on June 3, 2021, with the launch of the Dragon cargo mission to the International Space Station, and the launch of two crew members into space on NASA’s Crew-3 and Crew-4 missions. It also launched the communications satellite Turksat 5B, another space station’s resupply mission, and most recently a batch of Starlink Internet satellites on September 18.
For the Hotbird 13G mission, the Falcon 9 rocket fired the upper stage engine twice to inject the spacecraft into a geostationary elliptical transfer orbit with a high peak or point, more than 30,000 miles (50,000 km) above Earth.
The Hotbird 13G separated from the Falcon 9 rocket about 36 minutes into the mission.
After deploying from a Falcon 9 launcher to begin its journey toward geostationary orbit, the Hotbird 13G will disassemble solar panels and use the PPS5000 plasma thrusters developed by French company Safran for several months of orbit-lift maneuvers to reach a circular geostationary orbit. More than 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 km) above the equator.
The fuel-efficient plasma propulsion system relies on xenon gas and electricity to generate thrust, rather than conventional liquid rocket fuels such as hydrazine. This reduces the weight of the satellite, allowing engineers to launch on a smaller rocket or add additional payloads to support greater customer communications capability.
But raising the orbit using electric propulsion takes longer than maneuvers that rely on conventional rocket engines.
Hotbird 13G, like its predecessor Hotbird 13F, will rotate in tandem with the Earth’s rotation at 13 degrees east longitude.
By the middle of next year, Hotbird 13G will be ready to enter commercial service to begin a 15-year mission to broadcast TV programming to Eutelsat customers. Thanks to improvements in satellite communications technology, Eutelsat will only need two new Hotbird satellites to replace the three old Hotbird spacecraft operating at 13 degrees East.
Pascal Homsi, chief technical officer of Eutelsat, said the Hotbird fleet at 13° East constitutes the highest satellite broadcasting system covering Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, providing 1,000 TV channels to more than 160 million homes. Hotbird 13F and 13G will broadcast signals at Ku-band frequencies.
“We have over 600 pay-TV channels, 300 free-to-air channels, 450 high-definition TV, and 14 ultra-high-definition channels broadcasting from this pioneering location 13° East,” Homsi said last month before launching Hotbird 13F. “We are also able to provide 500 radio stations and multimedia services.”
The Hotbird 13G launch was SpaceX’s 51st mission of 2022, and the second in a series of three Falcon 9 flights this year to Eutelsat. The Eutelsat 10B communications satellite, designed to provide an in-flight internet connection for airline passengers, was delivered from Europe to Cape Canaveral by boat last week for launch on a Falcon 9 rocket later this month.
Rocket: Falcon 9 (B1067.7)
Payload: Hotbird 13G Communication Satellite
launch site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Station, Florida
Lunch date: 2/3 November 2022
launch window: 11:26 PM – 1:22 AM EDT (0326-0522 GMT)
weather forecast: 90% acceptable weather probability
Recovery from reinforcement: Unmanned ship “just read the instructions”
AZIMUTH LAUNCH: east
target orbit: geostationary transfer orbit
- T+00:00: take off
- T+01: 12: maximum air pressure (Max-Q)
- T+02:32: 1st stage for main engine cut-off (MICU)
- T+02:35: Phase separation
- T+02:43: Ignition the engine in the second stage
- T+03:23: Get rid of the calm
- T+06:30: Ignition of burning entering the first stage (three engines)
- T+06:55: First stage entry combustion ends
- T+08:08: Second stage engine cut-off (SECO 1)
- T+08:22: 1st stage burner ignition (single engine)
- T+08:44: First stage landing
- T+29:11: restart the engine in the second stage
- T+30: 10: Second stage engine cut-off (SECO 2)
- T+36:11: Hotbird Chapter 13G
- The 184th launch of the Falcon 9 since 2010
- The 193rd launch of the Falcon family since 2006
- Seventh launch of Falcon 9 Booster B1067
- Falcon 9 #157 launched from Florida’s space coast
- Launching 102 Falcon 9 from the 40 . platform
- 157th launch overall from platform 40
- Flight 125 of the reused Falcon 9 booster
- SpaceX’s fourth launch of Eutelsat
- 50 Falcon 9 launched in 2022
- SpaceX 51 launch in 2022
- The 48th orbital launch attempt launched from Cape Canaveral in 2022
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