The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches Egyptian communications satellite

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches Egyptian communications satellite

SpaceX has launched its 23rd Falcon 9 rocket so far this year on Wednesday, launching a sophisticated Egyptian communications satellite into orbit to expand its television service across the Middle East and Africa while providing broadband connectivity across Egypt.

Using a first-stage booster that made its seventh flight, the Falcon 9 came to life at 17:04 EDT and arched into the sky from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on top of a jet of flaming exhaust fumes.

With its nine first-stage engines that generated a total thrust of 1.7 million pounds, the narrow rocket arced east across the Atlantic and quickly disappeared from sight.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket climbs into orbit with a commercial Egyptian communications satellite. It was the California rocket builder’s 23rd launch so far this year and its 157th in total.

William Harwood / CBS News

As planned, the first step lifted the rocket out of the lower atmosphere and then fell off and flew back to an exact landing on an offshore drone ship. A few seconds before landing, the second stage reached its first “parking track”.

After a second engine fired 18 minutes later, the 4.1-ton Nilesat 301 communications satellite was released on a “transfer path” toward its operational outpost 22,300 miles above the equator. Satellites in such geosynchronous orbits rotate in step with the earth, enabling the use of stationary antennas on the ground.

A dramatic Falcon 9 “rocket camera” that looks back on the Florida Peninsula and shows high storm clouds just west of Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. But the sky above launch complex 40 was clear and SpaceX was able to proceed with the launch.


Nilesat 301, built by Thales Alenia Space, has a design life of 15 years and will work with a similar but older satellite launched in 2010 to provide high-speed data relays and televisions across the Middle East and Africa.

“The capability of the new satellite also includes providing broadband internet services to cover the Arab Republic of Egypt and remote areas … for new projects, infrastructure projects, new urban communities and oil fields in the eastern Mediterranean, in particular the Zohr field.” Nilesat said on its website.

The Nilesat 301 will also work with an Egyptian state satellite, TIBA-1, launched in 2019.

“Therefore, Egypt will be able to provide satellite internet service through two satellites to ensure the security and continuity of this service,” the company said.

Falcon 9 crashes past the rising moon about to orbit.

William Harwood / CBS News

SpaceX had planned to launch its 25th reconnaissance mission to the International Space Station on Friday, but the flight is now suspended while engineers work to locate an obvious fuel leak in the Cargo Dragon spacecraft. NASA says the launch is suspended until at least June 28 and possibly later.

Meanwhile, SpaceX will reportedly prepare another Falcon 9 for launch next week or so to carry a Globalstar data relay and communications satellite into orbit. All in all, the company is about to launch more than 50 Falcon 9 flights this year.

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