SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is set for liftoff from Cape Canaveral early Thursday, heading due east over the Atlantic Ocean to deliver the Inmarsat 5 F4 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 7:21 p.m. EDT (2321 GMT) Thursday at the opening of a 49-minute launch window.
Perched atop the rocket is the Inmarsat 5 F4 communications satellite, a spacecraft made by Boeing, ready to join Inmarsat’s Global Xpress network providing broadband connectivity to airline passengers and maritime crews. The rocket will place the satellite into a high-altitude “supersynchronous” transfer orbit.
The timeline below outlines the launch sequence for the Falcon 9 flight with Inmarsat 5 F4. 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 Inmarsat 5 F4 spacecraft into a high-altitude orbit.
The Falcon 9 does not carry landing legs or grid fins, which are not required for the expendable mission.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 4:18 p.m. EDT (2018 GMT), following a delay of more than an hour to troubleshoot a ground hydraulics controller. The Atlas 5 launched with the U.S. military’s sixth Advanced Extremely High Frequency strategic communications satellite.
Astra officials said Saturday a software fix will likely resolve a guidance system problem that caused the company’s first orbital-class rocket to begin drifting off course soon after liftoff from Alaska Friday night, prompting a range safety officer to terminate the mission.