Airbus BelugaST delivers satellite to Kennedy Space Center

BelugaST delivers the Airbus-built Hotbird 13G satellite. Copyright: Airbus SAS 2022 photo by Herve Gousse - Master Films

Airbus has utilised one of its BelugaST aircraft to deliver the Airbus-built Hotbird 13G satellite for Eutelsat to the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

This milestone marks the first time since 2009 that A BelugaST has visited the US – when it transported the International Space Station European module “Tranquility”.

For this latest mission, the BelugaST used 30% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) for its departure flight from Toulouse, France.

The flight followed the successful launch of the twin Hotbird 13F satellite by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The spacecraft are the first members of the new “Eurostar Neo” family of Airbus telecommunications satellites, based on a next-generation platform and technologies developed with the support of the European Space Agency (ESA), and others, including the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and the UK Space Agency (UKSA).

Airbus launched a new air cargo service using its five-strong BelugaST fleet, based on the A300-600 design, to help meet outsized freight transportation needs in January.

The BelugaST fleet is being replaced by six new-generation BelugaXLs, based on the larger A330-200 platform, to support Airbus’ ramp-up of its airliner production.

“It is a true honour to consecutively showcase two satellites for our customer Eutelsat: two pieces of European technology at the iconic Kennedy Space Center,” said Jean-Marc Nasr, head of space Systems at Airbus. “The ability of Airbus to field an autonomous European solution is underscored by the transportation of our satellites in the unique Beluga aircraft – a true example of pan-Airbus synergies!”

Once they reach their orbital position, these two satellites, with more efficient power and thermal control systems than their predecessors, will be able to broadcast more than 1,000 television channels across Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East.

They will also enhance Eutelsat’s ability to provide connectivity for more than 135m people, as they replace three Eutelsat satellites currently in orbit.

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Rebecca Jeffrey

Rebecca Jeffrey
New to aviation journalism, I joined Air Cargo News in late 2021 as deputy editor. I previously worked for Mercator Media’s six maritime sector magazines as a reporter, heading up news for Port Strategy. Prior to this, I was editor for Recruitment International (now TALiNT International). Contact me on: [email protected]