SpaceX Commences Dual Falcon 9 Launch Day with Eutelsat Mission – A Spaceflight Milestone

SpaceX had a busy schedule with three planned launches in less than five hours on Saturday evening. The first two rockets were Falcon 9s, departing from Florida’s Space Coast. The final mission was planned to lift off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, but was ultimately cancelled due to poor weather conditions.

The first mission of the evening involved the launch of the Eutelsat 36D satellite. The Falcon 9 rocket, with the tail number B1076, was making its 12th launch. This particular rocket has a storied history, having previously supported missions such as the 26th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-26) Dragon flight to the International Space Station, as well as the Intelsat IS-40e and Ovzon-3. About 8.5 minutes post-launch, B1076 landed on the SpaceX droneship ‘Just Read the Instructions’ in the Atlantic Ocean. This marked the 76th landing on this particular droneship and the 289th booster landing overall.

The payload for this mission, the Eutelsat 36D satellite, is around the size of a small truck according to Airbus, the satellite’s manufacturer. The satellite was delivered to Florida by Airbus’ new BelugaXL plane on March 11. The Eutelsat 36D is the 22nd geostationary satellite that Airbus has built for Eutelsat. The satellite, which features 70 physical Ku-band transponders, will replace the Eutelsat 36B satellite at the 36° East position. The satellite is designed to deliver over 1,100 TV channels to millions of homes in Africa and Eurasia. Additionally, it has been selected by Airbus Defense and Space to carry its latest Ultra High Frequency (UHF) payload to support communications over the EMEA region.

Following the Eutelsat 36D mission, SpaceX had planned to launch two Starlink satellite missions. The first, Starlink 6-45, lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The third mission of the night, which was supposed to launch from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E), was postponed due to a major storm system hitting Southern California. As of now, SpaceX has not announced a new launch date for this mission, Starlink 7-18.

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