October 26, 2020

South Korean satellite shipped to Cape Canaveral for Falcon 9 launch next month


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Artist’s concept of a Eurostar E3000 satellite in orbit. The Anasis 2 spacecraft built for the South Korean government is based on the Airbus Eurostar E3000 satellite platform, but other design details have not been disclosed. Credit: Airbus

A communications satellite built for the South Korean military arrived at Cape Canaveral this week from an Airbus factory in France to begin final preparations for launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in July.

The Anasis 2 communications satellite flew to the Kennedy Space Center Monday aboard an Antonov An-124 cargo plane from Toulouse, France, the site of an Airbus spacecraft manufacturing facility.

The flight from Toulouse to the Kennedy Space Center appeared on public flight tracking websites. Industry sources confirmed the Antonov transport plane carried the Anasis 2 spacecraft to the Florida launch base, where teams will test and fuel the satellite inside a SpaceX processing facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The Anasis 2 satellite is scheduled for launch in early July on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.

Developed by Airbus Defense and Space, the Anasis 2 satellite is shrouded in secrecy at the wishes of the the spacecraft’s owner — the South Korean government.

Anasis 2 is based on the Eurostar E3000 spacecraft platform made by Airbus, but details about its performance have been kept under wraps. The Anasis 2 satellite is expected to launch into an elliptical transfer orbit, then use its on-board propulsion system to reach a circular orbit at geostationary altitude more than 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers) over the equator.,

South Korea purchased the satellite — formerly known as KMilSatCom 1 — through an arrangement to offset South Korea’s purchase of F-35A fighter jets from Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin ultimately subcontracted the satellite manufacturing deal to Airbus.

A Falcon 9 rocket takes off from pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: SpaceX

Before Anasis 2, South Korea’s military has relied on international and civilian-owned satellites for communications.

The liftoff of the Anasis 2 satellite in early July is currently fourth in line in SpaceX’s launch manifest.

A Falcon 9 rocket launch carrying the next batch of SpaceX’s Starlink broadband satellites are scheduled for Friday from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, followed by another Falcon 9/Starlink launch around June 22 from pad 39A at Kennedy.

The U.S. Space Force’s next GPS navigation satellite is scheduled for launch June 30 from pad 40 on another Falcon 9 rocket, followed by the Anasis 2 mission in early July.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


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