For Avanti, ESA and Airbus, the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch of Arabsat 6 started the countdown to a problem

by Peter B. de Selding

PARIS — SpaceX’s specular second launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket — the vehicle’s second flight, and the first carrying a customer payload — delivered the Arabsat 6A satellite into geostationary-transfer orbit and, with it, sent an ominous message to satellite fleet operator Avanti, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Airbus Defence and Space.

Arabsat 6 manufacturer Lockheed Martin confirmed the satellite’s health in orbit, and its chemical propulsion will be used to place the satellite in final geostationary position . . .

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