SpaceX successfully launched the Badr 8 communications satellite for Arabsat into orbit from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida. The launch took place after a delay due to thick cloud cover and the need to make room for the test-firing of another rocket by United Launch Alliance. The Falcon 9 rocket, carrying the nearly five-ton Badr 8 satellite, was launched early Saturday morning.
The Badr 8 satellite, built by Airbus Defense and Space, will provide C-band and Ku-band communications services to replace capacity currently offered by the aging Badr 6 satellite. It will be positioned at the same orbital slot as Badr 6, providing television broadcast services, video relay, and data services across the Middle East and North Africa, Europe, and Central Asia. The satellite is based on Airbus’s Eurostar Neo satellite platform.
In addition to its commercial communications capabilities, Badr 8 also hosts an experimental laser communications payload, called TELEO, which will test new optical communications technology. The payload aims to achieve a transfer rate of up to 10 gigabits per second, with a long-term goal of achieving one terabit per second using optical communications.
Following the launch, the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage booster successfully landed on a drone ship more than 400 miles downrange from Cape Canaveral. This was the 14th flight of this particular booster. The upper stage of the rocket, along with the Badr 8 satellite, is now in a parking orbit.
SpaceX’s launch of the Badr 8 satellite marks its 36th flight of the year and the 26th orbital launch attempt from Florida’s Space Coast in 2023. The satellite is expected to complete in-orbit testing and begin operational service later this year, after several months of orbital adjustments. The Badr 8 spacecraft is designed for a 15-year service life.