SpaceX prepares for another Falcon 9 launch attempt tonight – Spaceflight Now

A live broadcast of the countdown and launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The Starlink 4-34 mission will launch SpaceX’s next 54 Starlink broadband satellites. Follow us Twitter.

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SpaceX’s next Falcon 9 rocket launch is now set for 8:18 pm EDT Sunday (0018 GMT Monday) to deliver 54 more Starlink Internet satellites into orbit. The mission was delayed for five days due to thunderstorms around the launch site.

A 229-foot-tall (70-meter) Falcon 9 rocket will launch SpaceX’s Starlink 4-34 mission. The weather outlook for Sunday night calls for a 40% chance of acceptable conditions for liftoff.

The SpaceX launch team halted the Falcon 9 countdown Tuesday night before starting to load propellants onto the Falcon 9 rocket. Lightning lit up the sky on Florida’s Space Coast throughout the evening. Similar weather conditions forced officials to call for another scrub before tanking Wednesday night, and Thursday night SpaceX halted the countdown at D-minus 30 seconds because the weather was “not right” for the launch.

SpaceX loaded propellants on the Falcon 9 on Friday night, but T-minus stopped the countdown within 60 seconds. The teams initially targeted another launch attempt on Saturday, but SpaceX announced Saturday evening that the mission would be delayed to Sunday night.

The flight will mark SpaceX’s 42nd Falcon 9 launch so far in 2022. It was the 40th space launch attempt overall from Florida’s Space Coast this year, including launches by SpaceX, United Launch Alliance and Astra.

Once it lifts off, the Falcon 9 rocket’s upper stage will release the satellites over the North Atlantic Ocean 15 minutes after liftoff. The 54 Starlink satellites have a total payload mass of about 36,800 pounds, or 16.7 metric tons.

The Starlink 4-34 mission will be the third of five Falcon 9 missions on SpaceX’s schedule this month. SpaceX aims to complete more than 60 launches this year, aiming for 100 rocket missions by 2023, Tom Osinero, SpaceX’s vice president of commercial sales, said Tuesday at the World Satellite Business Week conference in Paris. initiation.

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The high launch rate was aided by shorter turnarounds between missions at launch pads in Florida and California and the reuse of SpaceX Falcon 9 boosters and payload fairings. Launches carrying satellites for SpaceX’s own Starlink Internet network, like Friday night’s mission, have accounted for two-thirds of the company’s Falcon 9 flights so far this year.

SpaceX began flying 54 Starlink satellites last month on dedicated Falcon 9 flights. SpaceX experimented with different engine throttle settings and other minor modifications to extend the Falcon 9’s performance.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket docks at Pad 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station ahead of the Starlink 4-34 mission. Credit: Stephen Clark / Space Travel Now

SpaceX tested the Falcon 9 booster for the Starlink 4-34 mission on the launch pad on September 11. On September 10, a severe thunderstorm swept across the Cape Canaveral spaceport, halting the sustained fire effort.

The booster, designated B1067 on SpaceX’s list of reusable rockets, is headed for its sixth flight into space on Sunday night. The booster previously sent two astronauts to the International Space Station, and two resupply flights to the station. It also launched Turkey’s Turksat 5B communications satellite.

With Sunday night’s Starlink 4-34 mission, SpaceX has launched 3,347 Starlink Internet satellites, including prototypes and test units that are no longer in service. Saturday’s launch was the 61st SpaceX mission, primarily dedicated to hauling the Starlink Internet satellites into orbit.

The SpaceX launch team, stationed inside the Missile Control Center south of the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, will begin loading supercooled, dense kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants into the 229-foot-tall (70-meter) Falcon 9 vehicle at T-minus. 35 minutes.

Helium pressure will also flow into the rocket during the last half hour of the countdown. In the final seven minutes before liftoff, the Falcon 9’s Merlin main engines are thermally stabilized for flight through a process known as “chill down.” The Falcon 9’s guidance and range protection system will also be built to launch.

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After liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket will shoot its 1.7 million pounds of thrust — produced by nine Merlin engines — in a northeasterly direction over the Atlantic Ocean.

The rocket will exceed the speed of sound in about a minute, then stop two and a half minutes after lifting off its nine main engines. The booster stage will exit the Falcon 9’s upper stage, then burn pulses from the cold gas control propellants and extend the titanium grid fins to help propel the vehicle back into the atmosphere.

Two braking burns slow the rocket to land aboard the drone, which “read the instructions” about 400 miles (650 kilometers) before landing in about eight and a half minutes.

Credit: Space Travel Now

Falcon 9’s reusable payload fairing burns up during secondary combustion. A salvage ship is also on hand to recover two parts of the nose cone after splashing under parachutes in the Atlantic.

Sunday’s mission’s first stage will land minutes after Falcon 9’s second stage engine cut off to deliver the Starlink satellites into orbit. 54 The Starlink spacecraft, built by SpaceX in Redmond, Washington, will separate from a Falcon 9 rocket in T+Plus 15 minutes, 21 seconds.

Retention rods protrude from the Starlink payload stack, allowing the flat-packed satellites to fly freely from the Falcon 9’s upper position in orbit. The 54 spacecraft will deploy solar arrays and run through automated activation steps, then use krypton-fueled ion engines to maneuver into their operational orbits.

Falcon 9’s guidance system aims to position the satellites in an elliptical orbit inclined at 53.2 degrees to the equator. Satellites use on-board propulsion to do the rest of the work to reach a circular orbit about 335 miles (540 kilometers) from Earth.

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Starlink satellites will fly in one of five orbital “shells” at different inclinations for SpaceX’s global Internet network. After reaching their operational orbit, the satellites will enter commercial service and begin broadcasting broadband signals to customers who can purchase Starlink service and connect to the network with a ground terminal provided by SpaceX.

Rocket: Falcon 9 (B1067.6)

Payload: 54 Starlink satellites (Starlink 4-34)

Release Site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida

Release Date: September 18, 2022

Release Time: 8:18 PM EDT (0018 GMT on Sept. 19)

Weather forecast: 40% chance of acceptable weather; Low risk of upper level winds; Low risk of unfavorable conditions for booster recovery

Booster recovery: “Read the directions” drone cruises east of Charleston, South Carolina

Initialize the azimuth: Northeast

Target Orbit: 144 miles by 208 miles (232 kilometers by 336 kilometers), 53.2 degree gradient

Start the timeline:

  • T+00:00: Liftoff
  • T+01:12: Maximum Aerodynamic Pressure (Max-Q)
  • T+02:27: First Stage Main Engine Cut (MECO)
  • T+02:31: Level separation
  • T+02:36: Secondary engine ignition
  • T+02:42: Fairing jettisoned
  • T+06:48: First Stage Inlet Combustion Ignition (Three Engines)
  • T+07:07: First stage inlet combustion cut
  • T+08:26: First stage landing flare ignition (one engine)
  • T+08:40: Secondary Engine Cut (SECO 1)
  • T+08:47: First stage landing
  • T+15:21: Starlink satellite separation

Working Statistics:

  • 176th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket since 2010
  • 184th launch of the Falcon rocket family since 2006
  • 6th launch of Falcon 9 booster B1067
  • 151st Falcon 9 launch from Florida’s Space Coast
  • The 97th Falcon 9 launched from Pad 40
  • 152nd release overall from Bad 40
  • 118th flight of a reused Falcon 9 booster
  • 61st dedicated Falcon 9 launch with Starlink satellites
  • 42nd Falcon 9 launch of 2022
  • SpaceX’s 42nd launch in 2022
  • 40th orbital launch attempt from Cape Canaveral in 2022

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Follow Stephen Clarke on Twitter: @Stephen Clark1.

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