Live coverage of the countdown and the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Starlink 4-19 mission launched SpaceX’s next batch of 53 Starlink broadband satellites. Follow us Twitter.
SpaceX launched a reusable Falcon 9 booster for the 13th time Friday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, moving 53 Starlink Internet satellites into orbit. Liftoff from Panel 39A occurred at 12:09 PM EDT (1609 GMT).
Falcon 9 will head northeast of Kennedy to deliver packaged broadband relay stations to an orbit between 144 miles and 209 miles (232 x 337 km) in altitude. 53 flat-packed satellites are expected to deploy from the upper stage of Falcon 9 about 15 minutes after liftoff.
The launch will begin a busy weekend for SpaceX, with two more Falcon 9 flights on Saturday and Sunday from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, and then from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, a few miles south of the Kennedy Space Center.
With Friday’s mission, SpaceX will launch 2,706 Starlink Internet satellites, including prototypes and test units that are no longer in service, nearly a larger area than any other spacecraft fleet. Friday’s launch will mark SpaceX’s 48th mission primarily dedicated to moving Starlink’s Internet satellites into orbit.
The SpaceX launch team will be stationed inside the firing room at the launch control center at Kennedy, and will begin loading ultra-cold, condensed kerosene and liquid oxygen thrusters into the 229-foot (70-meter) Falcon 9 spacecraft at the 35-minute T-minus on Friday.
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 for flight through a procedure known as “chilldown”. The Falcon 9’s guidance and range safety systems will also be configured for launch at 12:08:50 PM
After liftoff, the 229-foot (70 m) 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 be fired from the upper stage of the Falcon 9, then blasts off from cold gas control thrusters and extending titanium grille fins to help steer the vehicle back into the atmosphere.
A braking burn will slow the missile from landing aboard the drone ship “A Shortfall of Gravitas” about 400 miles (650 kilometers) after about eight and a half minutes of take-off.
Friday’s flying booster stage – tail number B1060 – will set a new record for becoming the most flying member of SpaceX’s fleet of reusable rockets. It was first launched on June 30, 2020, with the launch of the US Army’s GPS navigation satellite, and then flew again in September and October of 2020 on Starlink missions.
It was launched six times in 2021 with the geostationary communications satellite Türksat 5A, four Starlink missions, and SpaceX’s Transporter 2 small satellite mission. Friday’s launch will be the fourth flight of 2022, all flights dedicated to the Starlink network.
SpaceX has qualified Falcon 9 boosters for at least 15 missions, up from the previous design life of ten flights for each first stage of the Falcon 9.
The first stage landing on Friday’s mission will occur moments before the Falcon 9’s second stage engine stops to deliver Starlink satellites into orbit. The 53 spacecraft, built by SpaceX in Redmond, Washington, are planned to separate at T+ plus 15 minutes and 26 seconds.
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 53 spacecraft will rotate 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 between 144 and 209 miles in height, 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.
Friday’s launch will be the first to put the Starlink satellites into a low-altitude elliptical transfer orbit since February, when aerodynamic drag from a solar storm caused nearly 40 Starlink satellites to re-enter the atmosphere shortly after launch. Since then, all of SpaceX’s Starlink launches have included two upper stage engine burners to ascend to a higher orbit for spacecraft deployment.
The Starlink satellites will fly on Friday’s mission in one of five orbital “shells” used in SpaceX’s global web. 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 (B1060.13)
Payload: 53 Starlink satellites (Starlink 4-19)
launch site: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Lunch date: June 17, 2022
launch time: 12:09:20 PM EST (1609:20 GMT)
weather forecast: 90% chance of acceptable weather; low risk of upper level winds; Low risk of conditions unfavorable for enhanced recovery
Recovery from reinforcement: Unmanned ship named “A Shortfall of Gravitas” east of Charleston, South Carolina
AZIMUTH LAUNCH: the Northeast
target orbit: 144 miles by 209 miles (232 kilometers by 337 kilometers), 53.2 degrees miles
- T+00:00: take off
- T+01: 12: maximum air pressure (Max-Q)
- T+02:27: 1st stage for main engine cut-off (MICO)
- T+02:30: Separation of the stage
- T+02:37: Ignite the engine in the second stage
- T+02:42: Get rid of the calm
- T+06:47: Ignition of burning entering the first stage (three engines)
- T+07:07: first stage entry combustion cut off
- T+08:24: 1st stage burner ignition (single engine)
- T+08:35: First stage landing
- T+08: 45: Engine cut-off in second stage (SECO 1)
- T+15:26: Starlink satellite disconnect
- The 158th Falcon 9 launch since 2010
- The 166th launch of the Falcon family since 2006
- The 13th launch of the Falcon 9 Booster B1060
- Falcon 9 rocket #138 launched from Florida’s space coast
- SpaceX launches fiftieth from platform 39a
- Launch number 144 of board 39A
- Flight number 100 of the reused Falcon 9 booster
- The launch of the 48th dedicated Falcon 9 with Starlink satellites
- Falcon 9 24th launch in 2022
- The 24th launch of SpaceX in 2022
- The 25th orbital launch attempt from Cape Canaveral in 2022
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