July 24, 2016

Flight timeline for Falcon 9’s launch of SES 9

Updated after scrubs.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is set for liftoff from Cape Canaveral on Friday evening, heading due east over the Atlantic Ocean to deliver the SES 9 television broadcast satellite into orbit 31 minutes later.

The 229-foot-tall rocket is poised for launch from Complex 40 at 6:35 p.m. EST (2335 GMT) Friday at the opening of a 91-minute launch window.

Perched atop the rocket is the SES 9 communications satellite, a 11,620-pound (5,271-kilogram) spacecraft made by Boeing, ready to beam television programming, data services and mobile connectivity to homes, businesses, ships and airplanes in the Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean region.

The timeline below outlines the launch sequence for the Falcon 9 flight with SES 9. It does not include times for the experimental descent and landing attempt of the first stage booster, which SpaceX says is unlikely to succeed due to the high speed required for the SES 9 launch.

SpaceX’s landing platform is positioned about 400 miles (650 kilometers) east of Cape Canaveral for the first stage landing attempt, which is expected around 10 minutes after liftoff.

Data source: SpaceX

T-0:00:00: Liftoff

After the rocket’s nine Merlin engines pass an automated health check, hold-down clamps will release the Falcon 9 booster for liftoff from Complex 40.
After the rocket’s nine Merlin engines pass an automated health check, hold-down clamps will release the Falcon 9 booster for liftoff from Complex 40.

T+0:01:13: Mach 1

The Falcon 9 rocket reaches Mach 1, the speed of sound.
The Falcon 9 rocket reaches Mach 1, the speed of sound.

T+0:01:24: Max Q

The Falcon 9 rocket reaches Max Q, the point of maximum aerodynamic pressure.
The Falcon 9 rocket reaches Max Q, the point of maximum aerodynamic pressure.

T+0:02:36: MECO

 

The Falcon 9’s nine Merlin 1D engines shut down.
The Falcon 9’s nine Merlin 1D engines shut down.

T+0:02:40: Stage 1 Separation

The Falcon 9’s first stage separates from the second stage moments after MECO.
The Falcon 9’s first stage separates from the second stage moments after MECO.

T+0:02:47: First Ignition of Second Stage

The second stage Merlin 1D vacuum engine ignites for an approximately 6-minute burn to put the rocket and SES 9 into a preliminary parking orbit.
The second stage Merlin 1D vacuum engine ignites for an approximately 6-minute burn to put the rocket and SES 9 into a preliminary parking orbit.

T+0:03:42: Fairing Jettison

The 5.2-meter (17.1-foot) diameter payload fairing jettisons once the Falcon 9 rocket ascends through the dense lower atmosphere. The 43-foot-tall fairing is made of two clamshell-like halves composed of carbon fiber with an aluminum honeycomb core.
The 5.2-meter (17.1-foot) diameter payload fairing jettisons once the Falcon 9 rocket ascends through the dense lower atmosphere. The 43-foot-tall fairing is made of two clamshell-like halves composed of carbon fiber with an aluminum honeycomb core.

T+0:09:01: SECO 1

The second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket shuts down after reaching a preliminary low-altitude orbit. The upper stage and SES 9 begin a coast phase scheduled to last more than 18 minutes before the second stage Merlin vacuum engine reignites.
The second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket shuts down after reaching a preliminary low-altitude orbit. The upper stage and SES 9 begin a coast phase scheduled to last more than 18 minutes before the second stage Merlin vacuum engine reignites.

T+0:27:07: Second Ignition of Second Stage

The Falcon 9's second stage Merlin engine restarts to propel the SES 9 communications satellite into a supersynchronous transfer orbit.
The Falcon 9’s second stage Merlin engine restarts to propel the SES 9 communications satellite into a supersynchronous transfer orbit.

T+0:27:55: SECO 2

The Merlin engine shuts down after a short burn to put the SES 9 satellite in the proper orbit for deployment. SpaceX has programmed the engine to burn until the second stage's propellant tanks are nearly empty instead of timing the engine cutoff to put the SES 9 spacecraft into a specific orbit. The adjustment allows the rocket to put SES 9 into the highest orbit possible.
The Merlin engine shuts down after a short burn to put the SES 9 satellite in the proper orbit for deployment. SpaceX has programmed the engine to burn until the second stage’s propellant tanks are nearly empty instead of timing the engine cutoff to put the SES 9 spacecraft into a specific orbit. The adjustment allows the rocket to put SES 9 into the highest orbit possible.

T+0:31:24: SES 9 Separation

The SES 9 satellite separates from the Falcon 9 rocket in an orbit with a predicted high point of about 39,300 kilometers (24,400 miles), a low point of 290 kilometers (180 miles) and an inclination of 28 degrees. Due to the decision to burn the second stage nearly to depletion, there is some slight uncertainty on the orbital parameters based on the exact performance of the launcher.
The SES 9 satellite separates from the Falcon 9 rocket in an orbit with a predicted high point of about 39,300 kilometers (24,400 miles), a low point of 290 kilometers (180 miles) and an inclination of 28 degrees. Due to the decision to burn the second stage nearly to depletion, there is some slight uncertainty on the orbital parameters based on the exact performance of the launcher.

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