SpaceX is ready for its 51st launch of 2022 with Eutelsat’s Hotbird-13G telecommunication satellite using a flight-proven Falcon 9 to a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). The Falcon 9 will launch from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS).
SpaceX is poised to launch a Falcon 9 rocket early Thursday from Cape Canaveral with Eutelsat’s Hotbird 13G television broadcasting satellite. Liftoff is targeted for the end of the night’s launch window at 1:22 a.m. EDT (0522 GMT). The Falcon 9’s first stage booster will target landing on a downrange drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
Ground teams rolled the Falcon 9 to pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Wednesday, the day after SpaceX launched a powerful Falcon Heavy rocket from pad 39A a few miles up the coast. The 229-foot-tall (70-meter) Falcon 9 was raised vertical on pad 40 Wednesday afternoon ahead of the overnight launch window.
Forecasters from the U.S. Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron predict a 90% probability of favorable weather for liftoff, with only a slight chance of cumulus clouds that might create a threat of lightning.
Built by Airbus, the roughly 10,000-pound (4.5-metric ton) Hotbird 13G spacecraft will beam hundreds of television and radio channels across Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Hotbird 13G is the twin satellite of Hotbird 13F, which launched Oct. 15 on a previous SpaceX Falcon 9 mission. The two Hotbirds are the first satellites to be built on Airbus’s new Eurostar Neo spacecraft design, incorporating upgrades in propulsion, thermal control, and electrical systems.
During Thursday morning’s countdown, the Falcon 9 launcher will be filled with a million pounds of kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants in the final 35 minutes before liftoff.
After teams verify technical and weather parameters are all “green” for launch, the nine Merlin 1D main engines on the first stage booster will flash to life with the help of an ignition fluid called triethylaluminum/triethylborane, or TEA-TEB. Once the engines ramp up to full throttle, hydraulic clamps will open to release the Falcon 9 for its climb into space.
The nine main engines will produce 1.7 million pounds of thrust for about two-and-a-half minutes, propelling the Falcon 9 and Eutelsat’s Hotbird 13G communications satellite into the upper atmosphere. Then the booster stage — tail number B1067 in SpaceX’s fleet — will shut down and separate from the Falcon 9’s upper stage.
This Is SpaceX’s 51st launch of 2022 with Eutelsat’s Hotbird-13G telecommunication satellite using a flight-proven Falcon 9 to a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). The Falcon 9 will launch from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS).
SpaceX has stated that, in order to complete pre-flight checkouts, liftoff is now targeted for the end of the 116-minute long window at 1:22 AM EDT (05:22 UTC) on Nov. 3.
Hotbird-13G is the second of three SpaceX flights for Eutelsat planned for 2022, including the previously launched Hotbird-13F satellite and the upcoming Eutelsat-10B mission. Hotbird-13G is SpaceX’s fourth overall mission for Eutelsat.
Eutelsat’s Hotbird-13G is also the third of four Eutelsat satellites launching in 2022, including the Eutelsat Konnect VHTS satellite launched on Ariane 5 in September. Eutelsat is a leading broadband communications satellite company operating satellites in geostationary (GEO) and soon low Earth orbits.
The company was founded in 1977 by Europe as the beginning of its satellite communications service industry. In partnership with ESA, the company launched its first satellite in 1983 with the Eutelsat I-F1 using an Ariane 1 rocket. With three successful launches using an Ariane 3, the Eutelsat I satellite fleet was completed in 1988.
The Eutelsat II began launching two years later, with its final successful launch in 1992. Eutelsat converted the sixth satellite in the Eutelsat II fleet into the first Hotbird satellite. Hotbird was modified to conduct direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting when compared to the other Eutelsat satellites.
Since then, Eutelsat has launched numerous satellites into orbit, expanding its coverage worldwide. Proton, Atlas, Delta, Ariane, Falcon, Chang Zhang, Ariane, and Zenit rockets have supported previous Eutelsat satellite launches. In 2015 and 2016, Eutelsat and Asian satellite provider ABS each launched two satellites marking the first and second flights on a Falcon 9 rocket.