Hotbird 13G | Falcon 9 Block 5

Lift Off Time
(Subject to change)
November 03, 2022 – 03:24 UTC
November 02, 2022 – 23:24 EDT
Mission Name
Hotbird 13G
Launch Provider
(What rocket company is launching it?)
SpaceX
Customer
(Who’s paying for this?)
Airbus Defense and Space, Eutelsat
Rocket
Falcon 9 Block 5
Launch Location
Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40), Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, USA
Payload mass
4,500 kg (9,900 lb)
Where is the satellite going?
Geostationary transfer orbit
Will they be attempting to recover the first stage?
Yes
Where will the first stage land?
Autonomous Spaceport Droneship (ASDS) Just Read The Instructions
Will they be attempting to recover the fairings?
Yes
Are these fairings new?
Yes
How’s the weather looking?
TBD
This will be the:
– 185th Falcon 9 mission
– 150th booster landing
– 73rd consecutive landing
– 51st launch for SpaceX in 2022 (a record)
– 100th SpaceX launch from
SLC-40
– 151st orbital launch attempt of 2022
Where to watch
Official livestream

What’s All This Mean?

SpaceX will be launching the Hotbird 13G satellite on their 51st mission of the year. The 4,500 kg (99,000 lb) satellite will launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40), Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, USA. Hotbird 13F was built by Airbus Defense and Space for joint operation by the European Space Agency and Eutelsat.

What Is The Eutelsat Hotbird 13G satellite?

In short, the Eutelsat Hotbird 13G satellite is a telecommunications satellite. Hotbird 13G is one of two identical satellites developed to replace three older communications satellites. The other satellite holds the title of Hotbird 13F and was launched by a Falcon 9 Block 5 in mid-October 2022. The pair will provide services to Europe, Northern Africa, and the Middle East.

The Hotbird 13G satellite after ground testing (Credit: ESA)

The satellite has an estimated lifetime of 15 years and will be replacing the Hotbird 8, 9, 10 (later renamed to Hotbird 13 B, C, and D respectively) which lasted about 14 years. The increased Ku band capacity on the newly update Hotbird 13F and 13G satellites now only requires two satellites to be at Eutelsat’s East position in geostationary orbit instead of the prior three.

Two solar panels generate 22 kW of power to enable efficient use of 80 Ku band transponders. That totals 160 Ku band transponders between both satellites in the same position.

What Is Falcon 9 Block 5?

The Falcon 9 Block 5 is SpaceX’s partially reusable two-stage medium-lift launch vehicle. The vehicle consists of a reusable first stage, an expendable second stage, and, when in payload configuration, a pair of reusable fairing halves.

First Stage

The Falcon 9 first stage contains 9 Merlin 1D+ sea level engines. Each engine uses an open gas generator cycle and runs on RP-1 and liquid oxygen (LOx). Each engine produces 845 kN of thrust at sea level, with a specific impulse (ISP) of 285 seconds, and 934 kN in a vacuum with an ISP of 313 seconds. Due to the powerful nature of the engine, and the large amount of them, the Falcon 9 first stage is able to lose an engine right off the pad, or up to two later in flight, and be able to successfully place the payload into orbit .

The Merlin engines are ignited by triethylaluminum and triethylborane (TEA-TEB), which instantaneously burst into flames when mixed in the presence of oxygen. During static fire and launch the TEA-TEB is provided by the ground service equipment. However, as the Falcon 9 first stage is able to propulsively land, three of the Merlin engines (E1, E5, and E9) contain TEA-TEB canisters to relight for the boost back, reentry, and landing burns.

Second Stage

The Falcon 9 second stage is the only expendable part of the Falcon 9. It contains a singular MVacD engine that produces 992 kN of thrust and an ISP of 348 seconds. The second stage is capable of doing several burns, allowing the Falcon 9 to put payloads in several different orbits.

For missions with many burns and/or long coasts between burns, the second stage is able to be equipped with a mission extension package. When the second stage has this package it has a gray strip, which helps keep the RP-1 warm, an increased number of composite-overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs) for pressurization control, and additional TEA-TEB.

falcon 9 block 5, launch
Falcon 9 Block 5 launching on the Starlink V1.0 L27 mission (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9 Booster

There is currently no booster assigned to the Hotbird 13G mission. Once more information becomes available, you can find it here.

Following stage separation, the Falcon 9 will conduct two burns. These burns aim to softly touch down the booster on SpaceX’s autonomous spaceport drone ship Just Read The Instructions.

falcon 9 booster, landing, drone ship
Falcon 9 landing on Of Course I Still Love You after launching Bob and Doug (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9 Fairings

The Falcon 9’s fairing consists of two dissimilar reusable halves. The first half (the half that faces away from the transport erector) is called the active half, and houses the pneumatics for the separation system. The other fairing half is called the passive half. As the name implies, this half plays a purely passive role in the fairing separation process, as it relies on the pneumatics from the active half.

Both fairing halves are equipped with cold gas thrusters and a parafoil which are used to softly touch down the fairing half in the ocean. SpaceX used to attempt to catch the fairing halves, however, at the end of 2020 this program was canceled due to safety risks and a low success rate. On Galaxy 33 & 34, SpaceX will attempt to recover the fairing halves from the water with their recovery vessel Bob.

In 2021, SpaceX started flying a new version of the Falcon 9 fairing. The new “upgraded” version has vents only at the top of each fairing half, by the gap between the halves, whereas the old version had vents placed spread equidistantly around the base of the fairing. Moving the vents decreases the chance of water getting into the fairing, making the chance of a successful scoop significantly higher.

Falcon 9 Active Half
An active Falcon 9 fairing half (Credit: Greg Scott)

Hotbird 13G Countdown

All times approximate

HR/MIN/SEC EVENT
00:38:00 SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load
00:35:00 RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading begins
00:35:00 1st stage LOX (liquid oxygen) loading begins
00:16:00 2nd stage LOX loading begins
00:07:00 Falcon 9 begins engine chill prior to launch
00:01:00 Command flight computer to begin final prelaunch checks
00:01:00 Propelant tank pressurization to flight pressure begins
00:00:45 SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for launch
00:00:03 Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start
00:00:00 Falcon 9 liftoff

LAUNCH, LANDING, AND DEPLOYMENT

All times are approximate

HR/MIN/SEC EVENT
00:01:12 Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket)
00:02:32 1st stage main engine cutoff (MECO)
00:02:35 1st and 2nd stages separate
00:02:42 2nd stage engine starts (SES-1)
00:03:22 Fairing deployment
00:06:29 1st stage entry burn begins
00:06:57 1st stage entry burn completes
00:08:07 2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO)
00:08:22 1st stage landing burn begins
00:08:45 1st stage landing
00:29:12 2nd stage engine restarts (SES-2)
00:30:10 2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO-2)
00:36:11 Eutelsat HOTBIRD 13G deploys

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