February 24, 2017

Launch timeline for SpaceX’s 10th space station resupply mission

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will go from Cape Canaveral to low Earth orbit in 10 minutes Saturday with a Dragon capsule heading for the International Space Station carrying nearly 5,500 pounds of supplies and experiments.

Liftoff is set for 1501:32 GMT (10:01:32 a.m. EST) Saturday from the Kennedy Space Center’s launch pad 39A.

It will be the 30th flight of a Falcon 9 rocket, and the 10th launch of the booster’s latest configuration with higher-thrust engines and densified super-cold propellants.

The launch will be the 10th of least 26 resupply missions under contract to SpaceX to depart for the space station.

The illustrated timeline below outlines the launch sequence for the Falcon 9 flight with the Dragon spacecraft. It does not include times for the experimental descent and landing attempt of the first stage booster at Landing Zone 1, a former Atlas missile launch facility about 9 miles (15 kilometers) south of pad 39A.

Three ignitions of the first stage engines after separation will steer the booster back toward Florida’s Space Coast from the northeast. Here are key times for the landing maneuvers:

  • T+plus 2 minutes, 41 seconds: First stage boost-back burn begins
  • T+plus 6 minutes, 32 seconds: First stage entry burn begins
  • T+plus 7 minutes, 33 seconds: First stage landing burn begins

Touchdown at Landing Zone 1 should occur shortly after the start of the landing burn with only the center Merlin 1D engine firing.

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 pad 39A.

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+0:01:15: 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+0:02:21: MECO

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

T+0:02:24: 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+0:02:32: Second Stage Ignition

The second stage Merlin 1D vacuum engine ignites for an approximately 7-minute burn to put the Dragon spacecraft into orbit.
The second stage Merlin 1D vacuum engine ignites for an approximately 7-minute burn to put the Dragon spacecraft into orbit.

T+0:09:05: SECO

The second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket shuts down after reaching a target orbit with a low point of approximately 124 miles (200 kilometers), a high point of approximately 223 miles (360 kilometers) and an inclination of 51.6 degrees. The second stage will reignite for a de-orbit burn soon after deploying the Dragon spacecraft, aiming for a destructive re-entry over the Southern Ocean south of Australia.
The second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket shuts down after reaching a target orbit with a low point of approximately 124 miles (200 kilometers), a high point of approximately 223 miles (360 kilometers) and an inclination of 51.6 degrees. The second stage is expected to reignite for a de-orbit burn soon after deploying the Dragon spacecraft, aiming for a destructive re-entry over the Southern Ocean south of Australia.

T+0:10:05: Dragon Separation

The Dragon spacecraft separates from the Falcon 9 rocket's second stage.
The Dragon spacecraft separates from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage.

T+0:11:00: Solar Arrays Deployed

The Dragon spacecraft's two solar array wings extend one-at-a-time to a span of 54 feet (16.5 meters).
The Dragon spacecraft’s two solar array wings extend one-at-a-time to a span of 54 feet (16.5 meters).

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