October 20, 2018

Timeline for SpaceX’s next station cargo launch


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SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will go from Cape Canaveral to low Earth orbit in 10 minutes Monday with a Dragon capsule heading for the International Space Station carrying around 6,400 pounds of supplies and experiments.

Liftoff is set for 1631 GMT (12:31 p.m. EDT) Monday from the Kennedy Space Center’s launch pad 39A.

It will be the 39th flight of a Falcon 9 rocket, and SpaceX’s 11th launch of the year. Working under contract to NASA, Monday’s launch will be the 12th of least 26 SpaceX resupply missions 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, 9 seconds: First stage entry burn begins
  • T+plus 7 minutes, 43 seconds: First stage landing

Touchdown at Landing Zone 1 should occur during a landing burn with only the first stage’s 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 pad 39A.

T+0:01:00: 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+0:01:08: 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+0:02:25: MECO

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

T+0:02:28: 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+0:02:36: 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+0:09:14: 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 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.

T+0:10:14: 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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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


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