April 28, 2017

Falcon 9 launch timeline with SES 10

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is set for liftoff from Cape Canaveral on Thursday evening, heading due east over the Atlantic Ocean to deliver the SES 10 communications satellite into orbit 32 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 6:27 p.m. EDT (2227 GMT) Thursday at the opening of a 150-minute launch window.

Perched atop the rocket is the SES 10 communications satellite, a spacecraft made by Airbus Defense and Space, ready to beam television programming and data services across Latin America. 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 SES 10, SpaceX’s first launch with a previously-flown first stage booster.

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 1.7 million pounds of thrust.

T+0:01:22: 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+0:02:38: MECO

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

T+0:02:41: 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+0:02:49: 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 SES 10 into a preliminary parking orbit.

T+0:03:49: 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+0:06:19: Stage 1 Entry Burn

A subset of the first stage’s Merlin 1D engines ignite for an entry burn to slow down for landing. A final landing burn will occur just before touchdown.

T+0:08:32: Stage 1 Landing

The Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage booster touches down on SpaceX’s drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

T+0:08:34: 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 10 begin a coast phase scheduled to last nearly 18 minutes before the second stage Merlin vacuum engine reignites.

T+0:26:29: 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 10 communications satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit.

T+0:27:22: SECO 2

The Merlin engine shuts down after a short burn to put the SES 10 satellite in the proper orbit for deployment.
The Merlin engine shuts down after a short burn to put the SES 10 satellite in the proper orbit for deployment. The on-board computer will target an orbit with a low point of 135 miles (218 kilometers), a high point of 22,002 miles (35,410 kilometers), and an inclination of 26.2 degrees.

T+0:32:03: SES 10 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 10 satellite separates from the Falcon 9 rocket in a geostationary transfer orbit.

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