Airbus’ BelugaST (A300-600ST) has delivered the HOTBIRD 13G satellite for Eutelsat to the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in Florida – the first time since 2009 that the Beluga has visited the United States.

The Super Transporter touched down just a few hours after its twin, HOTBIRD 13F, was successfully launched 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 the UK Space Agency (UKSA), among others.

2009 mission

In 2009, the Beluga transported the International Space Station European module “Tranquility” to the launch site in Florida.

For this latest mission, the Beluga used 30 per cent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for its departure flight from Toulouse.

Jean-Marc Nasr, head of Space Systems at Airbus, told a press briefing that having the Beluga available meant satellites could be delivered from Europe to North America in two days, versus four weeks by sea.

‘Every day counts’

“Every day counts” in the expensive world of space, Nasr said.

“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,” he added.

“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!”
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