UNITED STATES: SpaceX added to its long list of successful lift-offs and autonomous landings as the Falcon 9 launched a communications satellite into orbit before successfully landing back on a ship at sea. The rocket carrying Eutelsat’s Hotbird 13F satellite lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Station on early Saturday morning.
The Falcon 9’s first stage returned back to the surface under nine minutes after it was launched, landing smoothly on SpaceX’s Just Read the Instructions droneship, which was positioned in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida Coast.
Interestingly, the mission commenced just hours after Crew-4 Dragon capsule, nicknamed Freedom, had brought four astronauts home from the International Space Station. The SpaceX Crew-4 was an astronaut mission for NASA.
According to SpaceX, this particular first-stage booster of the rocket was used for the third time. It was previously used during the launch of CRS-24 cargo mission, where it had delivered a payload to the International Space Station back in December 2021 and also delivered a batch of the company’s Starlink internet satellites.
The satellite was deployed 36 minutes after lift-off by the Falcon 9’s upper stage. It was built by Airbus Defence and Space and will be operated by France-based Eutelsat. Hotbird 13F was delivered at a geostationary orbit.
Hotbird 13F and a soon-to-be-launched satellite, Hotbird G, are set to replace three older Hotbird satellites that provide 1000 television channels across Europe, North America, and the Middle East.
The 70-metre-long Falcon 9 is a reusable, 2-stage rocket which is designed in such a way that the first stage of the rocket can be reused. It is the world’s first orbital-class reusable rocket.
The reusability of the rocket allows SpaceX to reduce expenses on the critical parts of the rocket. Falcon 9 boasts 180 launches and an impressive 140 landings, along with 118 total reflights.