SpaceX launched a EutelSat for the European satellite Internet company EutelSat Communications on November 22, 2022. Like SpaceX’s Starlink constellation, EutelSat provides Internet connectivity for airplanes and ships in regions that are difficult for “normal” land-based high-speed Internet services to reach.
Unlike Starlink, EutelSat’s satellites reside in a geosychronous orbit that keeps each one over the same region on Earth. This provides reliable service for that specific region, but comes at the cost of higher latency since the satellites reside much farther from Earth. The most recently launched satellite will go to an orbit about 22,000 miles from Earth’s surface.
EutelSat provides Internet access in the North Atlantic, parts of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Thales Alenia Space, an aerospace company based in France and Italy, manufactures the Internet satellites.
The Falcon 9 booster used to launch the latest EutelSat satellite was in use since 2018. Previous flights included the launch of two communications satellites for Intelsat earlier this month. The EutelSat launch was the final launch for this booster, and it splashed down into the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX did not try to retrieve it.
This is the fourth EutelSat satellite that SpaceX has launched. SpaceX previously had to delay the EutelSat launch by a day due to weather.
CRS-26 Delayed by Weather
It also had a resupply mission to the International Space Station, CRS-26, scheduled for November 22, but had to scrub that one due to poor weather as well. SpaceX has CRS-26 tentatively rescheduled for November 26.
Like most resupply missions, CRS-26 will deliver valuable supplies and scientific experiments to the International Space Station. One experiment will have the space station crew grow a variety of dwarf tomato as part of a study of how the light spectrum affects plant growth. The principle investigator behind this experiment, Gioia Massa, implied that the astronauts on the ISS will get a chance to taste-test the tomatoes.
“We are testing tomatoes, looking at the impacts of light spectrum on how well the crop grows, how delicious and nutritious the tomatoes are, and the microbial activity on the fruit and plants,” Massa said in a statement issued by NASA.
NASA is also testing a mini-microscope that could help with medical diagnoses during long-duration space missions and a method for manufacturing long and thin structures in microgravity. One biomedical experiment will study astronauts’ ability to adapt to different gravity levels during a space mission.
The CRS-26 cargo also includes new solar panels for the International Space Station to supplement its power supply. Unlike the ISS’s first solar panels, the new ones are thin ones that can be unrolled like a sleeping bag when they are deployed.
If CRS-26 launches on November 26, it will dock with the ISS on November 27.