SpaceX launches Nilesat 301 for Egypt

June 8 at 5:03 pm E.T. from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station

Nilesat 301, the latest communications satellite for Nilesat Co, and built by Thales Alenia Space of France and Italy launched this evening for their first mission to utilize a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The three previous Nilesat mission, 101, 102, and 201 were all launched by Arainespace, the European launch provider using the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Nilesat Co. met with SpaceX in January of 2020 to discuss options launching from the United States and signed a contract for the Nilesat 301 mission.

Photo by: Zac Shaul – NHS

301 will replace the older Nilesat 201 satellite which launched in August of 2010 and will operate from the same location, 7 degrees West orbital position. This newer satellite will extend the company’s provision of Ku-band communications and direct digital broadcasting services in two large regions of Africa and provide Ku-band connectivity all across Egypt. A Spacebus-4000B2 platform from Thales Alenia Space will weigh about 4100 kilograms at launch and will use the SpaceX Falcon 9 to reach its geostationary orbital position. This marks the fourth launch for the Nilesat Co., the tenth satellite for Egypt, and the forty-eighth satellite for Africa, and the first to utilize a Falcon 9 rocket.

Falcon 9 B1062 was chosen for this launch and is no stranger to carrying precious cargo to desired orbits. Its first mission, GPS III SV03 back in November of 2020 was followed by the GPS III SV04, both vital satellites for the United States military and civilian GPS services. It has also carried eight human beings to orbit as well, the first time on the Inspiration-4 mission where Jared Isaacman and three others went on the first all civilian spaceflight where the crew spent three days orbiting Earth inside a SpaceX Dragon Capsule. The second time it carried human cargo to space was the Axiom-1 mission where the first all private crew ventured to the International Space Station. Besides these high priority launches it has also carried over one-hundred Starlink satellites into orbit between two launches.

Photo by: Kyle Montgomery – NHS

Today’s mission launched on Falcon 9 booster 1062, making this its seventh flight for the SpaceX launching fleet. Since November of 2020 this booster has flown a number of important missions for various customer payloads along with eight humans during two missions. This, twenty-third launch from SpaceX this year was supported by the drone ship Just Read the Instructions almost directly East of Cape Canaveral about 687km in the Atlantic Ocean as the satellite was headed to a geosynchronous orbit. Also supporting the mission and picking up the fairings was support vessel Bob, one of SpaceX’s newest support ships. Today’s mission also marks the 157th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket and the 49th consecutive landing.