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SpaceX scraps Falcon 9 launch attempt with Eutelsat satellite – 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 the Eutelsat 10B broadband communications satellite for aeronautical and maritime connectivity. follow us on Twitter.

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SpaceX’s oldest active Falcon 9 rocket booster, in service since 2018, is scheduled to make its final flight Tuesday evening to orbit a Eutelsat broadband communications satellite as part of a mission to provide internet services to aircraft and ships across 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 atop a Falcon 9 rocket at 9:57 p.m. EST Tuesday (02:57 GMT Wednesday) from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Eutelsat 10B is heading to a perch in geostationary orbit to transmit communications signals across a coverage area from the North Atlantic to Asia, using more than 100 spot beams to connect airline and ship passengers from cruisers, maritime crews and other users on the move.

A Monday night launch attempt was canceled hours before liftoff to “allow for additional pre-flight checks,” 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 devote all of the Falcon 9’s lift capacity to sending the Eutelsat 10B satellite into as high an orbit as possible, with no reserves or thrusters on the first stage for landing maneuvers.

There is only a 20% chance of favorable weather conditions for the launch on Tuesday night, 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 that launch, set for 3:54 p.m. EST (2054 GMT) on Tuesday, is also uncertain with a 30% chance of acceptable conditions for liftoff.

Eutelsat 10B will roll out from the upper stage of the Falcon 9 rocket approximately 35 minutes after launch. The rocket will aim to release the spacecraft into a “super synchronous” transfer orbit with an apogee, or furthest point from Earth, well above Eutelsat 10B’s final operating altitude of 22,000 miles. (nearly 36,000 kilometers). The target apogee of the Eutelsat 10B mission when the spacecraft deploys will be over 37,000 miles, or about 60,000 kilometers, according to Pascal Homsy, Eutelsat’s chief technical officer.

Instead of reserving some of its thruster for landing on a drone, Falcon 9’s first-stage thruster will burn through its nine main engines a few seconds longer than usual, giving extra speed to the rocket’s upper stage. This will allow the Falcon 9 second stage engine to place the Eutelsat 10B satellite into a higher orbit than would otherwise have been possible.

SpaceX still plans to salvage the two halves of the Falcon 9 rocket’s payload fairing for refurbishment and reuse.

Artist’s impression of the Eutelsat 10B satellite with its antennas and solar panels deployed in orbit. Credit: Thales Alenia Space

A spokesperson for Thales Alenia Space, the maker of Eutelsat 10B, said deploying the satellite to a super synchronous transfer orbit would cut the time it takes to reach its final operational geostationary orbit by around 10 days. Based on Thales’ Spacebus Neo satellite platform, Eutelsat 10B will use plasma thrusters for the orbit adjustments needed to circularize its orbit to a geostationary altitude of 22,000 miles above the equator, where it will around the Earth at the rate of the rotation of the planet.

Eutelsat 10B’s total launch mass is about 5.5 metric tons, or about 12,000 pounds, a Thales spokesperson told Spaceflight Now on Monday.

The Falcon 9 expendable mission will be the third time this month that SpaceX has had a Falcon rocket booster, following intentional disposals of a core stage on a Falcon Heavy rocket on Nov. 1 and a Falcon 9 booster on mission November 12. The Nov. 12 mission sent two communications satellites for Intelsat, which said it paid a premium for the extra performance of the Falcon 9, which resulted in the booster being knocked out in the Atlantic Ocean.

“The reason Eutelsat chose expendable propellant for this mission is the mass of the satellite, which requires the full fuel capacity and additional performance of the Falcon 9 rocket and proper on-orbit injection,” Homsy told Spaceflight Now. in response to written questions.

Homsy declined to say how much, if any, Eutelsat paid SpaceX for the additional Falcon 9 performance on the Eutelsat 10B mission.

Once in geostationary orbit next year, Eutelsat 10B will head to an operational position along the equator at 10 degrees east longitude. The satellite will add capacity for Internet connectivity services for aircraft and ships across the busy North Atlantic corridor between Europe and North America. Eutelsat 10B will also provide similar services over Europe, the Mediterranean basin and the Middle East, according to Paris-based satellite owner and operator Eutelsat.

Eutelsat 10B carries two high-speed Ku-band multi-beam payloads for aeronautical and maritime Internet services. These two payloads have 116 spot beams capable of handling more than 50 GHz of bandwidth and delivering throughput of around 35 gigabits per second, Eutelsat said.

The satellite also hosts two wide-beam C-band and Ku-band payloads to extend the services currently provided by the aging Eutelsat 10A satellite, launched in 2009.

Eutelsat 10B is expected to enter service in the summer of 2023, Homsy said.

The Eutelsat 10B communications satellite inside an antenna test range at Thales Alenia Space in Cannes, France. Credit: Eutelsat

The launch of Eutelsat 10B 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. broadcasters Hotbird TV joined the Eutelsat fleet after launches from Florida on Falcon 9 rockets in October and earlier this month.

“Quite a challenge for Eutelsat’s engineering teams, who rose to the challenge,” said Homsy.

During Tuesday night’s countdown, the Falcon 9 launch vehicle will be filled with one million pounds of kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants in the final 35 minutes before liftoff.

Assuming teams verify that technical and weather parameters are all “green” for launch, the nine Merlin 1D main engines of the first stage thruster will be brought to life using an ignition fluid called triethylaluminum/triethylborane, or TEA-TEB. Once the engines reach full throttle, the hydraulic grippers 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 more than two and a half minutes, propelling the Falcon 9 and Eutelsat 10B into the upper atmosphere. Then the booster stage will shut down and separate from the Falcon 9 upper stage to begin an uncontrolled drop into the Atlantic.

The booster is not equipped with SpaceX’s recovery hardware, such as titanium grid fins or landing legs. And SpaceX did not deploy any of its drones for the expendable mission.

SpaceX is expected to attempt to recover the payload fairing from the Falcon 9 rocket after the two nose cone shell halves parachuted into the sea below Cape Canaveral. The payload fairing will be jettisoned from the rocket about 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 inject the Eutelsat 10B spacecraft into an elliptical super-synchronous transfer orbit, then the satellite will deploy from the rocket. Eutelsat 10B will deploy its solar arrays and begin maneuvers with an onboard electric propulsion system to circularize its orbit at a geostationary altitude approximately 22,000 miles above the equator.

ROCKET: Falcon 9 (B1049.11)

PAYLOAD: Eutelsat 10B communications satellite

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

RELEASE DATE: November 22, 2022

LAUNCH TIME: 9:57 p.m. EST (02:57 GMT)

WEATHER FORECAST: 20% chance of acceptable weather conditions



TARGET ORBIT: Super Synchronous Transfer Orbit


    • T+00:00: Takeoff
    • T+01:16: Maximum air pressure (Max-Q)
    • T+02:43: First stage main engine shutdown (MECO)
    • T+02:47: Stage Separation
    • T+02:54: Second stage engine ignition
    • T+03:36: Fairing jettison
    • T+08:05: Second stage motor shutdown (SECO 1)
    • T+26:18: Second stage motor restart
    • T+27:27: Second stage motor shutdown (SECO 2)
    • T+35:28: Separation Eutelsat 10B


  • 186th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket since 2010
  • 195th launch of the Falcon family of rockets since 2006
  • 11th launch of the Falcon 9 booster B1049
  • Launch of the 159th Falcon 9 from the Space Coast of Florida
  • Launch of the 104th Falcon 9 from pad 40
  • 159th total launch from pad 40
  • 127th flight of a repurposed Falcon 9 booster
  • 5th SpaceX launch for Eutelsat
  • Launch of the 52nd Falcon 9 in 2022
  • 53rd launch by SpaceX in 2022
  • 51st orbital launch attempt based at Cape Canaveral in 2022

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