Antonov Airlines

2023-12-04 ANTONOV Airlines transported Maxar-built satellite Jupiter-3 ahead of launch

The Ukrainian ANTONOV Airlines – expert in outsized and super heavy cargo transportations – safely delivered the largest commercial communications satellite ever built to the launch facility at Kennedy Space Center

Kyiv, Ukraine, 2023: Antonov Airlines performed a transportation of the Hughes JUPITER™ 3 satellite on board of one of its AN-124-100M aircraft from Moffet Federal Airfield, Mountain View, California, USA, to NASA’s Shuttle Landing Facility in Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA, ahead of the satellite’s launch last month.

The cargo, with a total weight of about 95,000 kilograms, consisted of Hercules spacecraft container and ancillary launch campaign equipment. To load the cargo into the Antonov Airlines An-124-100, a special Antonov ramp system was built to convey the container once lifted from the truck via crane to the cargo hold of the Antonov aircraft. Once the container was safely aboard, the crew dismantled the ramp and loaded it into the hold. The ramp was used again to unload the satellite container when it arrived at its destination.

“When you are trying to transport a 9 metric ton geostationary satellite from Maxar`s manufacturing facility to the launch site, your options are limited. By truck, which takes nearly two weeks and requires complex logistics and variety of road permits, or by plane. And not just any airplane, but an AN-124-100, a massive vehicle that specializes in transporting bulky, oversized cargo,” said Virginia Lloyd, Maxar’s director of Global Logistics and Warehouse Management.

JUPITER 3, also known as EchoStar XXIV, will double the capacity of the Hughes satellite fleet with an additional 500 Gbps over the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, and more countries in South America. It will bring much-needed capacity to help connect more people in the Americas.

“It truly took a Herculean effort to move this Hercules container. Our Commercial and Load Planning Departments worked together with the Maxar logistics and engineering teams for several months to get this point. Seeing the largest satellite container designed and built by Maxar ease on to the ramp system and into the aircraft with very close margins gave us all a sense of gratification and project fulfillment,“ said Amnon Ehrlich, Director North America, Aerospace, Government and Defense Programs, Antonov Airlines.