SpaceX successfully launches Starlink mission on sixth try – Spaceflight Now


Live protection of the countdown and launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The Starlink 4-34 mission will launch SpaceX’s subsequent batch of 54 Starlink broadband satellites. Follow us on Twitter.

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SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Sunday evening after 5 days of climate delays, hauling 54 extra Starlink satellites to orbit as the corporate continues its push towards finishing greater than 60 missions this yr.

Liftoff of the 229-foot-tall (60-meter) Falcon 9 rocket occurred at 8:18:40 p.m. EDT Sunday (0018:40 GMT Monday) to start SpaceX’s Starlink 4-34 mission. The Falcon 9 took off powered by 9 kerosene-fueled Merlin 1D engines, firing right into a nighttime sky because it soared northeast from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

The mission lastly obtained off the bottom after 5 days of delays, which started Tuesday evening when the launch staff known as off a countdown simply earlier than beginning to load propellants into the Falcon 9 rocket. Lightning flashes lit up the sky over Florida’s Space Coast all through the night. Similar climate circumstances Wednesday evening pressured officers to name one other scrub earlier than tanking, and SpaceX stopped the countdown at about T-minus 30 seconds Thursday evening as climate remained “no go” for launch.

It was an analogous story Friday evening as SpaceX loaded propellants into the Falcon 9, however stopped the countdown simply inside T-minus 60 seconds. Teams initially focused one other launch try Saturday, however SpaceX introduced Saturday night the mission can be delayed to Sunday evening.

This flight marked SpaceX’s forty second Falcon 9 launch up to now in 2022. It was the fortieth area launch try general from Florida’s Space Coast this yr, together with launches by SpaceX, United Launch Alliance, and Astra.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launches on the Starlink 4-34 mission. Credit: Stephen Clark / Spaceflight Now

About quarter-hour after liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket’s higher stage launched 54 Starlink satellites over the North Atlantic Ocean touring at a velocity of some 17,000 mph. The satellites totaled about 36,800 kilos, or 16.7 metric tons, in payload mass.

The Starlink 4-34 mission was the third of as many as 5 Falcon 9 missions on SpaceX’s schedule this month. Tom Ochinero, SpaceX’s vp of economic gross sales, stated final week on the World Satellite Business Week convention in Paris that the corporate goals to finish greater than 60 launches this yr, with the aim of 100 rocket missions in 2023, persevering with a dramatic uptick in SpaceX’s launch cadence.

The greater launch charge has been aided by shorter turnarounds between missions at launch pads in Florida and California, and SpaceX’s reuse of Falcon 9 boosters and payload fairings. Launches carrying satellites for SpaceX’s personal Starlink web community, just like the mission Sunday evening, have accounted for about two-thirds of the corporate’s Falcon 9 flights up to now this yr.

The subsequent Falcon 9 launch for the Starlink community was scheduled for Sept. 19 from Cape Canaveral, however is prone to be delayed till the final week of September as a ripple impact of the weather-related scrubs for the Starlink 4-34 mission.

SpaceX started flying 54 Starlink satellites on devoted Falcon 9 flights final month, yet one more spacecraft than the corporate sometimes launched on earlier missions. SpaceX has experimented with totally different engine throttle settings and different minor adjustments to stretch the Falcon 9’s efficiency.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stands on pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station forward of liftoff on the Starlink 4-34 mission. Credit: Stephen Clark / Spaceflight Now

SpaceX test-fired the Falcon 9 booster for the Starlink 4-34 mission on the launch pad Sept. 11. A static fireplace try Sept. 10 was aborted as a powerful thunderstorm swept throughout the Cape Canaveral spaceport.

The booster that flew Sunday evening is designated B1067 in SpaceX’s stock of reusable rockets. The booster beforehand launched two astronaut missions towards the International Space Station, plus two resupply flights to the station. It additionally launched Turkey’s Turksat 5B communications satellite tv for pc.

The first stage accomplished its sixth flight to area Sunday evening, culminating in an on-target touchdown on SpaceX’s drone ship parked within the Atlantic Ocean.

With the Starlink 4-34 mission, SpaceX has now launched 3,347 Starlink web satellites, together with prototypes and check models not in service. The launch Saturday was the 61st SpaceX mission primarily devoted to hauling Starlink web satellites into orbit.

Stationed inside a launch management middle simply south of Cape Canaveral Space Force Station for Sunday evening’s countdown, SpaceX’s launch staff started loading super-chilled, densified kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants into the Falcon 9 automobile at T-minus 35 minutes.

Helium pressurant additionally flowed into the rocket within the final half-hour of the countdown. In the ultimate seven minutes earlier than liftoff, the Falcon 9’s Merlin predominant engines had been thermally conditioned for flight by means of a process often known as “chilldown.” The Falcon 9’s steering and vary security system had been additionally configured for launch.

After liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket vectored its 1.7 million kilos of thrust — produced by 9 Merlin engines — to steer northeast over the Atlantic Ocean.

The rocket exceeded the pace of sound in about one minute, then shut down its 9 predominant engines two-and-a-half minutes after liftoff. The booster stage launched from the Falcon 9’s higher stage, then fired pulses from chilly gasoline management thrusters and prolong titanium grid fins to assist steer the automobile again into the environment.

Two braking burns slowed the rocket for touchdown on the drone ship “Just Read the Instructions” round 400 miles (650 kilometers) downrange roughly eight-and-a-half minutes after liftoff.

Credit: Spaceflight Now

The Falcon 9’s reusable payload fairing jettisoned through the second stage burn. A restoration ship was additionally on station within the Atlantic to retrieve the 2 halves of the nostril cone after they splash down below parachutes.

Landing of the primary stage on Sunday’s mission occurred moments after the Falcon 9’s second stage engine reduce off to ship the Starlink satellites into orbit. Separation of the 54 Starlink spacecraft, constructed by SpaceX in Redmond, Washington, from the Falcon 9 rocket was confirmed at T+plus quarter-hour, 21 seconds.

Retention rods launched from the Starlink payload stack, permitting the flat-packed satellites to fly free from the Falcon 9’s higher stage in orbit. The 54 spacecraft will unfurl photo voltaic arrays and run by means of automated activation steps, then use krypton-fueled ion engines to maneuver into their operational orbit.

The Falcon 9’s steering laptop aimed deploy the satellites into an elliptical orbit at an inclination of 53.2 levels to the equator. The satellites will use on-board propulsion to do the remainder of the work to succeed in a round orbit 335 miles (540 kilometers) above Earth.

The Starlink satellites will fly in certainly one of 5 orbital “shells” at totally different inclinations for SpaceX’s international web community. After reaching their operational orbit, the satellites will enter industrial service and start beaming broadband indicators to shoppers, who should purchase Starlink service and hook up with the community with a SpaceX-supplied floor terminal.

ROCKET: Falcon 9 (B1067.6)

PAYLOAD: 54 Starlink satellites (Starlink 4-34)

LAUNCH SITE: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida

LAUNCH DATE: Sept. 18, 2022

LAUNCH TIME: 8:18:40 p.m. EDT (0018:40 GMT on Sept. 19)

WEATHER FORECAST: 40% probability of acceptable climate; Low threat of higher degree winds; Low threat of unfavorable circumstances for booster restoration

BOOSTER RECOVERY: “Just Read the Instructions” drone ship east of Charleston, South Carolina

LAUNCH AZIMUTH: Northeast

TARGET ORBIT: 144 miles by 208 miles (232 kilometers by 336 kilometers), 53.2 levels inclination

LAUNCH TIMELINE:

  • T+00:00: Liftoff
  • T+01:12: Maximum aerodynamic stress (Max-Q)
  • T+02:27: First stage predominant engine cutoff (MECO)
  • T+02:31: Stage separation
  • T+02:36: Second stage engine ignition
  • T+02:42: Fairing jettison
  • T+06:48: First stage entry burn ignition (three engines)
  • T+07:07: First stage entry burn cutoff
  • T+08:26: First stage touchdown burn ignition (one engine)
  • T+08:40: Second stage engine cutoff (SECO 1)
  • T+08:47: First stage touchdown
  • T+15:21: Starlink satellite tv for pc separation

MISSION STATS:

  • 176th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket since 2010
  • 184th launch of Falcon rocket household since 2006
  • sixth launch of Falcon 9 booster B1067
  • 151st Falcon 9 launch from Florida’s Space Coast
  • 97th Falcon 9 launch from pad 40
  • 152nd launch general from pad 40
  • 118th flight of a reused Falcon 9 booster
  • 61st devoted Falcon 9 launch with Starlink satellites
  • forty second Falcon 9 launch of 2022
  • forty second launch by SpaceX in 2022
  • fortieth orbital launch try primarily based out of Cape Canaveral in 2022

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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