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 the Eutelsat 10B broadband communications satellite for air and sea links. follow us on Twitter.
SpaceX’s oldest active Falcon 9 rocket booster, in operation since 2018, is scheduled to make its final flight Tuesday night to launch a Eutelsat broadband communications satellite to provide internet service to planes and ships over the North Atlantic, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The mission will complete a series of four major satellite launches for Eutelsat since early September.
The Eutelsat 10B satellite is scheduled to lift off Tuesday at 9:57 p.m. EST (Wednesday 0257 GMT) on a Falcon 9 rocket from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Eutelsat 10B is heading toward a base in geostationary orbit to beam communications signals across a coverage zone from the North Atlantic to Asia, deploying more than 100 spot beams to connect airline and cruise ship passengers, ship crews and other users en route.
A launch attempt Monday night was scrubbed a few hours before launch to “allow for additional pre-flight checkouts,” SpaceX said.
SpaceX will not recover the first stage of the 70-meter-tall Falcon 9 rocket. The launch company has reached an agreement with Eutelsat to use all of the Falcon 9’s lift capability to launch the Eutelsat 10B satellite into as high an orbit as possible without reserving fuel on the first stage for landing maneuvers.
Tuesday night’s launch has only a 20 percent chance of favorable weather, according to the official outlook from the US Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron.
A few miles north of Pad 40, SpaceX is preparing another Falcon 9 rocket for launch Tuesday from Kennedy Space Center on a resupply mission to the International Space Station. The weather forecast for this launch, set for Tuesday at 3:54 p.m. EST (2054 GMT), is also dubious with a 30 percent chance of acceptable launch conditions.
Eutelsat 10B will lift off from the upper stage of the Falcon 9 rocket approximately 35 minutes after launch. The rocket will aim to place the spacecraft in a “supersynchronous” transfer orbit with an apogee, or apogee, well above Eutelsat 10B’s final operating altitude of 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers). According to Eutelsat Chief Technical Officer Pascal Homsy, the target apogee for the Eutelsat 10B mission when the spacecraft is deployed will be over 37,000 miles, or about 60,000 kilometers.
Rather than reserving some of the fuel for landing on a drone ship, the Falcon 9’s first stage booster will burn its nine main engines a few seconds longer than usual, giving the rocket’s upper stage an additional speed boost. This will allow the Falcon 9 second stage engine to launch the Eutelsat 10B satellite into a higher orbit than would otherwise have been possible.
SpaceX continues to plan to retrieve the two halves of the Falcon 9 rocket’s payload fairing for refurbishment and reuse.
A spokesman for Thales Alenia Space, maker of Eutelsat 10B, said deploying the satellite in supersynchronous transfer orbit will cut the time it takes to reach its final geostationary operating orbit by about 10 days. Based on Thales’ Spacebus Neo satellite platform, Eutelsat 10B will use plasma thrusters for the orbital adjustments needed to circularize its orbit at a geostationary altitude of 22,000 miles above the equator, where it will orbit the Earth in step with the planet’s rotation .
The total launch mass of Eutelsat 10B is about 5.5 tons, or about 12,000 pounds, a Thales spokesman told Spaceflight Now on Monday.
The Falcon 9 expendable mission will mark the third time this month that SpaceX has discarded a Falcon rocket booster, after intentionally discarding a core stage of a Falcon Heavy rocket in November 2019. 1 and a Falcon 9 booster on a 11-12 mission. The 11-12 mission carried two communications satellites for Intelsat, which it says paid a premium for the additional performance of the Falcon 9, resulting in the booster being in the Atlantic was disposed of.
“The reason Eutelsat chooses a disposable booster for this mission is due to the satellite’s mass, which requires the full fuel capacity and additional power of the Falcon 9 rocket and proper orbit injection,” Homsy told Spaceflight Now in written questions .
Homsy declined to say how much Eutelsat paid SpaceX for the additional Falcon 9 performance on the Eutelsat 10B mission.
Once in geostationary orbit next year, Eutelsat 10B will steer itself to an operational position along the equator at longitude 10 degrees East. The satellite will expand capacity for internet connectivity services for aircraft and ships on the busy North Atlantic Corridor between Europe and North America. Eutelsat 10B will also offer similar services over Europe, the Mediterranean Basin and the Middle East, according to Eutelsat, the Paris-based owner and operator of satellites.
Eutelsat 10B carries two high-throughput, multi-beam Ku-band payloads for aeronautical and maritime Internet services. Those two payloads have 116 spot beams that can handle more than 50 GHz of bandwidth, offering about 35 gigabits per second in total, Eutelsat said.
The satellite also hosts two wide-beam C-band and Ku-band payloads to augment the services currently provided by the aging Eutelsat 10A satellite, launched in 2009.
Eutelsat 10B is scheduled to become operational in the summer of 2023, Homsy said.
The Eutelsat 10B launch marks Eutelsat’s fourth major communications satellite to be launched in the last two and a half months, starting with the Eutelsat Konnect VHTS satellite, which was launched in September on an Ariane 5 rocket. Two Hotbird TV broadcasting satellites joined Eutelsat’s fleet after being launched from Florida on Falcon 9 rockets in October and earlier this month.
“Quite a challenge for the Eutelsat engineering teams who took on this challenge,” said Homsy.
During Tuesday night’s countdown, the Falcon 9 launch vehicle will be filled with a million pounds of kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants in the last 35 minutes before liftoff.
Assuming teams confirm that launch technical and weather parameters are all “green,” the first stage booster’s nine main Merlin 1D engines will be ignited using an ignition fluid called triethylaluminum/triethylborane, or TEA-TEB . Once the engines are up to full throttle, the hydraulic clamps open to release the Falcon 9 for its ascent into space.
The nine main engines will generate 1.7 million pounds of thrust for more than two and a half minutes, propelling the Falcon 9 and Eutelsat 10B into the upper atmosphere. The booster stage is then shut down and separated from the Falcon 9 upper stage to begin an uncontrolled plunge into the Atlantic.
The booster is not equipped with SpaceX’s recovery hardware such as titanium grid fins or landing legs. And SpaceX has not used any of its drone ships for the expendable mission.
SpaceX is expected to attempt to recover the Falcon 9 rocket’s payload fairing after the two clamshell halves of the nose cone parachuted into the sea below Cape Canaveral. The payload fairing will be ejected from the rocket approximately three and a half minutes into flight, shortly after the Falcon 9 upper stage engine fires.
The Falcon 9 rocket will fire its upper stage engine twice to place the Eutelsat 10B spacecraft in an elliptical supersynchronous transfer orbit, then the satellite will be launched from the rocket. Eutelsat 10B will deploy its solar panels and begin maneuvers with an onboard electric propulsion system to circle its orbit at geostationary altitude about 22,000 miles above the equator.
ROCKET: Falcon 9 (B1049.11)
PAYLOAD: Eutelsat 10B communications satellite
STARTING PLACE: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Force space station, Florida
PUBLICATION DATE: New. 22nd, 2022
START TIME: 9:57 p.m. EST (0257 GMT)
WEATHER FORECAST: 20% probability of acceptable weather
BOOSTER RECOVERY: none
START AZIMUTH: east
TARGET ORBIT: Supersynchronous transfer orbit
SCHEDULE FOR INTRODUCTION:
- T+00:00: Take off
- T+01:16: Maximum aerodynamic pressure (Max-Q)
- T+02:43: First Stage Main Engine Shutdown (MECO)
- T+02:47: Stage separation
- T+02:54: Second stage engine firing
- T+03:36: Disguise shedding
- 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: Separation from Eutelsat 10B
- 186th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket since 2010
- 195th launch of the Falcon rocket family since 2006
- 11. Falcon 9 booster B1049 launch
- Launch of the 159th Falcon 9 from the Space Coast in Florida
- Launch of the 104th Falcon 9 from Pad 40
- 159. Start overall from pad 40
- 127. Flight of a reused Falcon 9 booster
- 5. SpaceX launch for Eutelsat
- 52. Falcon 9 launch in 2022
- 53rd launch of SpaceX in 2022
- 51st orbital launch attempt from Cape Canaveral in 2022
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