SpaceX says a Falcon 9 rocket is on track to launch Egypt’s Nilesat 301 communications satellite no earlier than (NET) 5:04 p.m. ET (21:04 UTC) on Wednesday, June 8.
Built by French-Italian aerospace company Thales Alenia Space, Nilesat 301 is a fairly standard 4.1 ton (~9,000 lb) geostationary communications satellite designed to deliver large areas of the Middle East, North Africa , East Africa and Sudan with communication and digital means. broadcast services. It will augment the capabilities of Nilesat 201, launched in 2010, and replace Nilesat 101 and 102, which were retired in 2013 and 2018.
The reusable Falcon 9 booster originally assigned to support Nilesat 301 is unknown, but at some point last month SpaceX briefly considered launching the mid-size geostationary satellite to B1049 and spending the aging booster in the process. . CEO Elon Musk noted that not all Falcon 9 Block 5 boosters are created equal. While still a big improvement over previous versions, the first production run of Block 5 boosters are significantly more boring to cast and reuse than the new boosters, which have incorporated many improvements and upgrades. at minor level. SpaceX has already intentionally expended the first two Block 5 boosters (B1046 and B1047) and unintentionally lost B1048 and B1050 during failed landing attempts.
Of the first five Falcon 9 Block 5 boosters, only B1049 remains, and underscoring SpaceX’s lack of interest in the older booster, B1049 was last launched nearly nine months ago in September 2021. Initially, Alex Alcantarilla reported that SpaceX plans to launch B1049 one last time to support the launch of an O3B mPOWER communications satellite in mid-2022. B1049 was later mixed into Nilesat 301 after O3B’s launch plans slipped or changed. Now the honor of B1049’s 11th and final launch has once again slipped to a different mission – supposedly as far back as November 2022.
Nilesat 301 was originally scheduled to launch in the first quarter and April 2022 before satellite production and shipping delays pushed the mission back to June, which could also have contributed to the reshuffling of booster assignments. For its June 8 final target, SpaceX chose Falcon 9 booster B1062 to launch the Egyptian satellite just 40 days after launching a batch of Starlink satellites. Nilesat 301 will be the seventh launch and landing attempt for the B1062 since November 2020 and the sixth launch in 12 months.
Tune in below around 4:50 p.m. EDT (8:50 p.m. UTC) to watch SpaceX’s 23rd launch of 2022 live.