Science

Nilesat-301 launched by SpaceX on first GTO mission in 2022

By FactsWow Team

Posted on: 09 Jun, 2022

In a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO), the Nilesat-301 satellite took off on Wednesday aboard SpaceX's workhorse Falcon 9 rocket. Falcon 9 launched on its first GTO mission of the year from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Nilesat-30, an Egypt-owned and operated multi-purpose broadcasting satellite, is the only satellite to be launched as part of this mission. Thales Alenia Space in France built the 4,100-kilogram spacecraft based on the Spacebus 4000B2 satellite bus.

In addition to replacing Nilesat-201 in 2028, Nilesat-301 will operate alongside and eventually replace Nilesat-201 over the next two decades. Nilesat-301 will serve a larger area and have more frequencies.

In addition, the new satellite is expected to have a service life of over 15 years, which will begin once it has completed all of Thales Alenia Space's checks and tests. Nilesat-301 was delivered by sea to Florida, where it joined SES-22, which is also set to launch on a Falcon 9 next month.

During a previous mission, the Falcon 9 was based at the Horizontal Integration Facility.  At Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40), Falcon 9 rolled out of Horizontal Integration Facility the day before launch. A strongback was used to raise the rocket vertically and power it up. As with each Falcon 9 launch campaign, SpaceX did not conduct a pre-launch static fire test.

At T-35 minutes, if the weather is favorable, and following a poll of launch controllers, the rocket's propellant loading process begins when chilled RP-1 fuel is introduced to both stages. The first stage will also start to receive liquid oxygen during this time.

At T-22 minutes, the Erector's propellant lines were purged with gaseous oxygen and nitrogen, and RP-1 was loaded into Stage 2 on the second stage. At T-20 minutes, the first stage was purged with liquid oxygen, and liquid oxygen was then boiled off.

The rocket's tanks had partially been pressurized at this point and could support their weight without the strongback. The rocket's flight computer took control at T-1 minute, and the rocket's tanks were inflated to flight pressure.

As with all other GTO flights, Falcon 9 traveled east on this mission. SpaceX aims to launch Falcon 9 directly east from the Cape on its initial ascent to orbit in order not to add any more inclination to the 28.6 degrees, the lowest possible inclination, of geostationary orbit.

After passing through Max-Q, the vehicle reached maximum aerodynamic pressure just over one minute into the flight. The ascent can often be harsh at this point, as its name suggests. During this period of flight, the first stage engines are throttled down momentarily to cope with the stresses.

 Immediately following this burn, the satellite will separate from the stage, beginning a months-long campaign to raise and commission the satellite in orbit.

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