spacex, hotbird 13f

Hotbird 13F | Falcon 9 Block 5

Lift Off Time
October 15, 2022 – 05:22 UTC | 01:22 EDT
Mission Name
Hotbird 13F
Launch Provider
(What rocket company launched it?)
(Who paid for this?)
Airbus Defense and Space, Eutelsat
Falcon 9 Block 5 B1069-3
Launch Location
Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40), Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, USA
Payload mass
4,500 kg (9,900 lb)
Where did the satellite go?
Geostationary transfer orbit
Did they attempt to recover the first stage?
Where did the first stage land?
Autonomous Spaceport Droneship (ASDS) Just Read The Instructions
Did they attempt to recover the fairings?
Were these fairings new?
This was the:
– 181st Falcon 9 launch
– 118th Falcon 9 flight with a flight-proven booster
– 122nd re-flight of a booster
– 44th re-flight of a booster in 2022
– 147th booster landing
– 73rd consecutive landing (a record)
– 47th launch for SpaceX in 2022 (a record)
– 100th SpaceX launch from 
– 140th orbital launch attempt of 2022
Where to watch
Official replay

How Did It Go?

SpaceX successfully launched the Hotbird 13F satellite on their 47th mission of the year. The 4,500 kg (9,900 lb) satellite rode 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.

After initially boosting the Falcon 9 second stage, booster B1069 succesfully landed on Just Read The Instructions, succesfully completing it’s third launch. A couple hours later, Eutelsat confirmed succesful launch into a geostationary transfer orbit.

hotbird 13f, eutelsat, spacex
Nine Merlin engines roar as Falcon 9 and Hotbird 13F lift off the pad (Credit: SpaceX)

What Is The Eutelsat Hotbird 13F satellite?

In short, the Eutelsat Hotbird 13F satellite is a telecommunications satellite. Hotbird 13F is one of two identical satellites developed to replace three older communications satellites. The other satellite holds the title of Hotbird 13G and will be launched by a Falcon 9 Block 5 no earlier than November of 2022. The pair will provide services to Europe, Northern Africa, and the Middle East.

esa, falcon 9, sapcex, hotbird 13f
The hotbird 13F 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 grey 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

The booster supporting the Hotbird mission is B1069, which has supported three previous flights. Hence, its designation for this mission is B1069-3; this will change to B1069-4 upon successful landing.

B1069’s missionsLaunch Date (UTC)Turn Around Time (Days)
CRS-24December 21, 2021 10:07N/A
Starlink Group 4-23August 28, 2022 03:41249.73
Hotbird 13FOctober 13, 2022 03:2547.99

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 A Shortfall of Gravitas.

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 13F Countdown

All times approximate

00:38:00SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load
00:35:00RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading begins
00:35:001st stage LOX (liquid oxygen) loading begins
00:16:002nd stage LOX loading begins
00:07:00Falcon 9 begins engine chill prior to launch
00:01:00Command flight computer to begin final prelaunch checks
00:01:00Propellant tank pressurization to flight pressure begins
00:00:45SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for launch
00:00:03Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start
00:00:00Falcon 9 liftoff


All times are approximate

00:01:12Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket)
00:02:321st stage main engine cutoff (MECO)
00:02:351st and 2nd stages separate
00:02:422nd stage engine starts (SES-1)
00:03:22Fairing deployment
00:06:291st stage entry burn begins
00:06:571st stage entry burn completes
00:08:072nd stage engine cutoff (SECO)
00:08:221st stage landing burn begins
00:08:451st stage landing
00:29:122nd stage engine restarts (SES-2)
00:30:102nd stage engine cutoff (SECO-2)
00:36:11Eutelsat HOTBIRD 13F deploys

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