Live coverage of the countdown and launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Starlink 4-26 mission will launch SpaceX’s next batch of 53 Starlink broadband satellites. Follow us Twitter.
SpaceX counts down the launch of its Falcon 9 rocket and 52 Starlink internet satellites on Tuesday at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The commercial mission is scheduled to launch into low Earth orbit at 10:14 p.m. EDT (0214 GMT), and the first, reusable stage of the Falcon 9 will target landing on an unmanned ship offshore.
The launch team passed the launch opportunity at 6:57 PM EDT (2257 GMT) due to unfavorable upper level winds. There is a 70% chance of weather suitable for liftoff on Tuesday, according to the US Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron.
The Falcon 9 rocket will head northeast from the Kennedy Space Center, aiming to connect packed broadband relay stations into an orbit between 144 miles and 208 miles (232 x 338 kilometers) in height. 52 flat-packed satellites will be deployed from the upper stage of Falcon 9 about 15 minutes after liftoff.
With Tuesday’s mission, Starlink 4-26 assigned, SpaceX will launch 3, 09 Starlink Internet satellites, including prototypes and test units that are no longer in service. Tuesday’s launch will coincide with SpaceX’s 54th mission, primarily intended to bring Starlink satellites into orbit.
The SpaceX launch team, stationed inside a firing room at the Kennedy Launch Control Center, will begin loading ultra-cold, condensed kerosene and liquid oxygen thrusters into the 229-foot (70-meter) Falcon 9 into the 35-minute T-minus.
Helium pressure will also flow into the rocket in the last half hour of the countdown. In the last seven minutes before takeoff, the Falcon 9 Merlin’s main engines will be thermally conditioned to fly through a procedure known as “chilldown”. The Falcon 9’s guidance and field safety systems will also be configured for launch.
After liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket will direct 1.7 million pounds of thrust — produced by nine Merlin engines — to steer in the northeast Atlantic.
The missile will exceed the speed of sound in about one minute, and then shut down its nine main engines two and a half minutes after takeoff. The booster will fire from the upper stage of the Falcon 9, then release pulses of cold gas control thrusters and extend the titanium grille fins to help steer the vehicle back into the atmosphere.
Two brake burners will slow the missile as it lands on the “A Shortfall of Gravitas” drone about 400 miles (650 kilometers) after about eight and a half minutes of take-off.
It will launch the Starlink 4-26 mission’s flying booster, known as B1073, on its third flight into space. It debuted in May with a previous Starlink launch, and then flew again on June 29 with the SES 22 commercial broadcast television satellite.
Tuesday’s mission’s first-stage landing will occur moments after the Falcon 9’s second-stage engine stopped to deliver Starlink satellites into orbit. The 52nd spacecraft, built by SpaceX in Redmond, Washington, is scheduled to separate from the Falcon 9 rocket for a T+ duration of 15 minutes and 24 seconds.
The retaining rails will be launched from the Starlink payload stack, allowing the flat-packed satellites to fly freely from the Falcon 9’s upper stage into orbit. The 52 spacecraft will launch and power the solar arrays through automated activation steps, then use krypton-fueled ion engines to maneuver into their operational orbit.
The Falcon 9’s guidance computer aims to deploy the satellites into an elliptical orbit at an orbital inclination of 53.2 degrees to the equator. The satellites will use onboard thrust to do the rest of the work to reach a circular orbit 335 miles (540 kilometers) above Earth.
Starlink satellites will fly in one of five orbital “shells” in different directions of the global Internet for SpaceX. After reaching their operational orbit, the satellites will enter commercial service and begin transmitting broadband signals to consumers, who can purchase Starlink service and connect to the network through a ground station provided by SpaceX.
Rocket: Falcon 9 (B1073.3)
Payload: 52 Starlink satellites (Starlink 4-26)
launch site: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Lunch date: August 9, 2022
launch time: 10:14:40 PM EST (0214:40 GMT)
weather forecast: 70% chance of acceptable weather; low risk of upper level winds; Reduced risk of conditions unfavorable to enhanced recovery
Recovery from reinforcement: Drone ship named “A Shortfall of Gravitas” east of Charleston, South Carolina
AZIMUTH LAUNCH: the Northeast
target orbit: 144 miles by 208 miles (232 kilometers by 335 kilometers), 53.2 degrees miles
- T+00:00: take off
- T+01: 12: maximum air pressure (Max-Q)
- T+02:26: 1st stage for main engine cut-off (MICO)
- T+02:30: Separation of the stage
- T+02:36: Ignite the engine in the second stage
- T+02:41: Get rid of the calm
- T+06:45: Ignition of burning entering the first stage (three engines)
- T+07:06: First stage entry combustion cut off
- T+08:19: 1st stage burner ignition (single engine)
- T+08:43: Second stage engine cut-off (SECO 1)
- T+08:44: First stage landing
- T+15:24: Starlink satellite disconnect
- 169th Falcon 9 launch since 2010
- The 177th launch of the Falcon family since 2006
- Third launch of Falcon 9 Booster B1073
- Falcon 9 146 launched from the Space Coast in Florida
- SpaceX53 launched from platform 39A
- 147th release overall from board 39A
- Flight 111 of the reused Falcon 9 booster
- The launch of the 54th dedicated Falcon 9 with Starlink satellites
- The 35th Falcon 9 launch in 2022
- The 35th SpaceX launch in 2022
- The 35th orbital launch attempt launched from Cape Canaveral in 2022
Send an email to the author.
Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: Tweet embed.
“Certified music scholar. Freelance analyst. Social mediaholic. Hipster-friendly web nerd. Zombie buff.”