The BelugaST special cargo transport jet completed the transport of an Airbus-produced HOTBIRD 13G satellite to the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in Florida this weekend.
The landing of the A300-600ST, as it is also called, came hours after a similar satellite, HOTBIRD 13F, was launched into orbit by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
According to Airbus, “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 others, including the Center National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and the UK Space Agency (UKSA)”.
This is the first time the Beluga has visited the United States since 2009, when the aircraft delivered the “Tranquility” module from the European International Space Station.
The F-GSTC aircraft is one of five on the BelugaST, the first generation of the transport jet that was designed to transport large components between Airbus assembly lines.
The manufacturer also has the Beluga XL (A330-700L), based on the A330 and which have greater load capacity. Because of this, Airbus decided to create Airbus Transport International, intended to carry out freighter flights for other customers.
“It is a true honor to consecutively showcase two satellites for our customer Eutelsat: two pieces of European technology at the iconic Kennedy Space Center,” said Jean-Marc Nasr, Head of Space Systems at Airbus. “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!”