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Falcon Heavy to Launch Record-Sized Communications Satellite for EchoStar

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

EchoStar 24 'Jupiter-3' Weighing 9.2 Tons

Jupiter 3 launch info

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket is all set to embark on its seventh mission, carrying the record-sized communications satellite EchoStar 24, also known as Jupiter-3. The satellite, weighing an impressive 9.2 tons (approximately 9,200 kg), is expected to break new ground in terms of satellite capabilities and capacity.

The 99-minute launch window opens at 11:04 p.m. ET (03:04 UTC on July 27). If needed, a backup launch opportunity is available on Thursday, July 27 with the same window. **UPDATE: The Launch attempt for July 26 has been scrubbed**

The Falcon Heavy launch profile involves the use of booster B1064 making its third flight, alongside B1065 also on its third flight. The central core, B1079, will make its maiden voyage and will be discarded to maximize acceleration and performance during the launch.

Both of the side boosters on this mission previously supported USSF-44 and USSF-67. Following stage separation, Falcon Heavy’s two side boosters will land on SpaceX’s Landing Zones 1 and 2 (LZ-1 and LZ-2) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Falcon Heavy no.7 poised at LC-39A

The mission aims to place the Hughes Network Systems satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit, allowing it to expand transmission capacity and provide enhanced broadband services in areas where cable and fiber infrastructure is limited.

Expanding transmission capacity

Jupiter 3/EchoStar XXIV

The Jupiter 3/EchoStar XXIV is a large multipoint beam Ka-band ultra-high density (UHDS) transformational satellite based on the SSL-1300 chassis, offering the flexibility to support a wide range of applications and technological advancements. It features an all-new architecture based on a wide range of technological advancements, with a UHDS multipoint beam Ka-band payload, including miniaturization of electronics, solid-state amplifiers, and more efficient antenna designs, enabling a throughput of 500 Gbps. When it arrives at its destination in geostationary orbit at 95º west longitude, Jupiter 3, in the operational position, should have a wingspan of approximately 30 meters.

Maxar Technologies (formerly Space Systems/Loral – SS/L) patented eighteen technological advances that were incorporated into the design, allowing it to provide highly concentrated capacity in critical areas. The SSL-1300 chassis spacecraft has four SPT-100 plasma electric motors, two solar panels charging batteries with a useful life of 15 years; it has a take-off mass (the record for communication satellites) of about 9,200 kg, of which 5,817 kg without propellants and pressurization gases.

Jupiter 3/EchoStar XXIV

Hamid Akhavan, CEO of EchoStar's parent company, expressed excitement about the satellite's capacity to serve more customers, especially in regions where traditional broadband infrastructure is limited. Jupiter-3 is expected to significantly expand broadband offerings in the United States and Latin America, and support applications such as onboard WiFi, corporate networking, and cellular backhaul for mobile network operators.

The mission will not, however, break the record for the heaviest combined payload to geostationary orbit in a single launch – set by the Ariane 5 rocket in 2021 when it launched two communication satellites with a total mass of 10.2 tonnes – but it will set a record for the mass of a single spacecraft in a single launch. Jupiter-3 will surpass the world record for the largest single commercial geostationary satellite ever launched by 30%. It will likely be the heaviest civilian satellite of any kind to reach geostationary orbit (35,785 km). More importantly, the satellite may also have the highest dry mass of any spacecraft launched in that orbit, likely making it the most powerful geostationary communications satellite in the world. In July 2018, SpaceX already broke the record for launching the heaviest commercial geostationary satellite when a Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched a Telstar 19V Telesat satellite weighing 7,076 kg into orbit. At that time, to ensure the landing of Falcon 9's first stage, SpaceX launched Telstar 19V into a transfer orbit with an apogee well below geostationary orbit, which meant that the satellite had to increase its orbit on its own.


All Times Approximate


00:00:00 Lift-off

00:01:09 Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket)

00:02:22 Side boosters engine cutoff (BECO)

00:02:25 Side boosters separate

00:02:44 Side boosters boostback burns begin

00:03:49 Side boosters boostback burns end

00:03:52 1st stage main engine cutoff (MECO)

00:03:55 1st and 2nd stages separate

00:04:01 2nd stage engine starts (SES)

00:04:16 Fairing deployment

00:06:20 Side boosters entry burns start

00:06:36 Side boosters entry burns end

00:07:20 Side boosters landing burns start

00:07:34 Side boosters landing

00:08:23 2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO-1)

00:26:25 2nd stage engine starts (SES-2)

00:27:59 2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO-2)

03:22:01 2nd stage engine starts (SES-3)

03:22:26 2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO-3)

03:28:39 JUPITER 3 deploys

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