UNITED STATES: SpaceX successfully launched Hotbird 13G, a telecom satellite, on Thursday morning. The Falcon 9 rocket used for the launch landed back on a ship stationed at sea.
The Falcon 9 carried Eutelsat’s Hotbird 13G satellite into orbit after lifting off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, at 1:22 a.m. local time.
Nine minutes later, the Falcon 9’s first stage returned to Earth. The returning rocket touched down as per plans on SpaceX’s Just Read the Instructions droneship. The droneship was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
The particular first stage of the Falcon 9 successfully achieved its seventh launch and landing. SpaceX, in its pre-launch mission description, said that the Falcon 9’s first stage booster used for the mission had previously launched the CRS-22, Crew-3, Turksat 5B, Crew-4, CRS-25, and one Starlink
The CRS-22 and CRS-25 were unmanned cargo flights to the International Space Station, whereas Crew-3 and Crew-4 were manned missions that carried astronauts to and from the ISS.
The Hotbird 13G, built by Airbus Defense and Space, will be operated by Eutelsat, a France-based telecom company. The satellite was deployed in geosynchronous transfer orbit by the Falcon 9’s upper stage about 36 minutes after liftoff.
Hotbird 13G joined its twin, Hotbird 13F, also launched by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 last month. The two satellites will replace three existing Hotbird satellites.
According to Eutelsat representatives, the Hotbird satellite family “forms one of the largest broadcasting systems in Europe, delivering 1,000 television channels to more than 160 million TV homes in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.”
The launch of Hotbird 13G is the second SpaceX launch from Florida’s coast over the last two days. SpaceX launched the USSF-44 mission for the U.S. Space Force from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday.