SpaceX is targeting 11:25 PM ET (03:25 UTC) tonight to launch Arabsat BADR-8 into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). The launch window extends to 127 minutes, which SpaceX may need to use as weather approaches.
Shows only 25% chance of acceptable conditions. If weather conditions don’t improve, SpaceX has the opportunity of another launch tomorrow evening at the same time.
Arabsat BADR-8 is the first seventh generation satellite for the company built by Airbus and will provide telecommunications to the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
The satellite will be launched at a 26-degree orbital inclination and will take about four to five months to reach its final geostationary orbit after separation from the Falcon 9 second stage.
Launching BADR-8 is B1062, which will now fly for the 14th time. This Falcon 9 has previously supported 2 crewed missions, several Starlink launches, and other commercial payload launches. Just eight and a half minutes after launch, the B1062 droneship will perform a landing burn shortly before the planned soft touchdown on “Just Read the Instructions”.
Another plus of this launch is the fast turnaround time of SLC-40, which just last week supported the launch of Starlink Group 6-3. SpaceX has definitely picked up the pace of launches this month as this will be the 7th launch of the month.
Three of which will reach the SLC-40 Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. If SpaceX is able to launch during the 127-minute span this evening, they could have at least 2 more launches this month, one each from east and west coast launch pads.
SpaceX’s fleet is also moving at a fast pace this month. The autonomous spaceport drone ships have been deployed almost back-to-back since their launch this month, serving as landing platforms for five missions and also being on alert for the Axiom-2 mission.
Which launched this past weekend and will be back at around 8am. A few days after launch and will be recovered by two SpaceX Dragon recovery ships “Megan” or “Shannon”.
Watch a replay of our live coverage of the countdown and launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with Arabsat’s Badr 8 communications satellite from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida.
SpaceX kicked off Memorial Day weekend with an overnight launch Saturday from Cape Canaveral, boosting a nearly five-ton communications satellite into orbit for Arabsat, a multinational consortium providing TV and video broadcasting services in the Middle East.
SpaceX botched an early Wednesday launch attempt at Cape Canaveral due to thick cloud cover, then postponed liftoff of its Falcon 9 rocket to later in the week to wait for better weather and United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket The test-firing was delayed.
Finally, ULA postponed the test-firing of its Vulcan rocket, and SpaceX was cleared by the Space Force’s Eastern Range for another countdown late Friday.
SpaceX pushed back the launch time by more than an hour to wait for winds to subside, then forward to fuel the Falcon 9 rocket for liftoff at 12:30 a.m. EDT (0430 UTC) on Saturday extended.
Darts through low-level clouds, the Falcon 9 rocket headed east from Cape Canaveral to deliver the Badr 8 satellite into an elliptical “supersynchronous” transfer orbit about half an hour after liftoff. The rocket propelled the spacecraft to a top speed of 21,999 mph (35,405 kph), according to telemetry readouts on SpaceX’s live webcast of the mission.
The launch marked SpaceX’s 36th flight of the year and its 26th orbital launch attempt so far in 2023 from Florida’s Space Coast.
The nearly 10,000-pound (4.5-metric-ton) Badr 8 communications satellite was placed inside the Falcon 9’s nose cone for liftoff on Saturday.
Built by Airbus Defense and Space, the Badr 8 satellite, also known as Arabsat 7B, will provide C-band and Ku-band communications services, which are currently provided by the 15-year-old Badr 6 satellite in geostationary orbit.
Badr 8 will move into the same orbital slot as Badr 6, located at 26 degrees east longitude along the equator. The Badr satellites are owned by Arabsat, a pan-Arab consortium of 21 member states based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Badr 8 will provide television broadcast services, video relay and data services to the Middle East and North Africa, Europe and Central Asia.
Arabsat says its investment in the Badr 8 program is about $300 million, which includes a spacecraft manufacturing contract with Airbus, a launch agreement with SpaceX, insurance and ground infrastructure.
The Badr 8 is based on Airbus’ Eurostar Neo satellite platform, the company’s latest large spacecraft bus. After separating from the Falcon 9 rocket about 37 minutes into the mission, Badar 8 was expected to deploy its solar panels and go through a series of post-launch checkouts under the supervision of Airbus ground controllers in Toulouse, France.
Badr 8 will then use low-thrust, high-efficiency plasma thrusters to maneuver into a circular geostationary orbit more than 22,000 miles (about 36,000 kilometers) above the equator, placing itself in an orbit close to Earth’s orbit. Will do The spacecraft maintains a continuous view of its coverage area spanning Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia.
Orbital adjustments will take several months, then Badr 8 will complete testing in orbit and should be ready to begin operational service for Arabsat later this year. The Badr 8 spacecraft is designed for a service life of 15 years.
In addition to its purpose as a commercial communications satellite, Badr 8 also hosts an experimental laser communications payload for Airbus. The TELEO demonstration will test new optical communication technology in partnership between Airbus, the French space agency CNES and Safran Data Systems.
The TELEO payload will test the technology’s ability to beam data from the satellite to a ground station using lasers, allowing the transfer of information at up to 10 gigabits per second. Airbus and its partners hope to advance the technology for future missions to achieve a one terabit per second bit rate using optical communications.
“This TELEO demonstrator will enable extremely high-capacity optical feeder link communications with an extremely robust nature against jamming as part of the development of a new generation of optical communications technology in space by Airbus,” Airbus said in a press release. ” ,
The Badr 8 satellite being prepared for shipment to Cape Canaveral from Airbus’ factory in Toulouse, France. The launch of Badr 8 continued a jam-packed sequence of SpaceX missions.
This was the fourth SpaceX Falcon 9 launch in a week, following a Falcon 9 launch from California in May, following a Falcon 9 flight with Starlink satellites from Cape Canaveral on May 19.