September 26, 2017

Falcon 9 launch timeline with EchoStar 23

Updated with 48-hour delay to Thursday.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is set for liftoff from Cape Canaveral early Thursday, heading due east over the Atlantic Ocean to deliver the EchoStar 23 communications satellite into orbit 34 minutes later.

The 229-foot-tall (70-meter) rocket is poised for launch from pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 1:35 a.m. EDT (0535 GMT) Thursday at the opening of a 150-minute launch window.

Perched atop the rocket is the EchoStar 23 communications satellite, a spacecraft made by Space Systems/Loral, ready to beam television programming across Brazil for EchoStar Satellite Services The rocket will place the satellite into a high-altitude geosynchronous transfer orbit.

The timeline below outlines the launch sequence for the Falcon 9 flight with EchoStar 23. On this mission, SpaceX does not plan to attempt a recovery of the rocket’s first stage booster due to the high performance required to place the heavy EchoStar 23 spacecraft into a high-altitude orbit.

The Falcon 9 does not carry landing legs, the first SpaceX launch without landing gear since April 2015.

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 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, as the nine Merlin 1D engines provide more than 1.5 million pounds of thrust.

T+0:01:16: 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+0:02:43: MECO

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

T+0:02:47: 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+0:02:55: 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 a nearly 6-minute burn to put the rocket and EchoStar 23 into a preliminary parking orbit.

T+0:03:43: 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+0:08:31: 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 EchoStar 23 begin a coast phase scheduled to last nearly 18 minutes before the second stage Merlin vacuum engine reignites.

T+0:26:19: 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 EchoStar 23 communications satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit.

T+0:27:19: SECO 2

The Merlin engine shuts down after a short burn to put the EchoStar 23 satellite in the proper orbit for deployment.
The Merlin engine shuts down after a short burn to put the EchoStar 23 satellite in the proper orbit for deployment.

T+0:34:00: EchoStar 23 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 EchoStar 23 satellite separates from the Falcon 9 rocket in a geostationary transfer orbit. SpaceX and EchoStar have not released the exact orbit targeted on tonight’s launch.

Email the author.

Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!