October 21, 2018

Falcon 9 launch timeline with Telstar 19 VANTAGE


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SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is set for liftoff from Cape Canaveral on Monday, heading due east over the Atlantic Ocean to deliver the Telstar 19 VANTAGE communications satellite into orbit around 32 minutes later.

The 229-foot-tall (70-meter) rocket is poised for launch from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 12:50 a.m. EDT (0450 GMT) Sunday at the opening of a four-hour launch window.

Perched atop the rocket is the Telstar 19 VANTAGE communications satellite, a spacecraft manufactured by SSL — formerly known as Space Systems/Loral — and owned by Ottawa-based Telesat.

Telstar 19 VANTAGE weighs 15,597 pounds (7,075 kilograms) with its propellant tanks fully loaded, making it the heaviest commercial communications satellite ever launched.

The U.S.-built, Canadian-owned satellite will beam Ka-band and Ku-band broadband services over the Americas from northern Canada to South America, with a additional coverage providing in-flight WiFi to airliners traveling the North Atlantic Ocean. Telstar 19 VANTAGE is designed for a 15-year mission, and it’s the first of two SSL-built, Telesat-owned spacecraft launching on SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets this summer.

After deployment from the upper stage of the Falcon 9 rocket in an elliptical transfer orbit, Telstar 19 VANTAGE will use its on-board hydrazine-fueled engine to boost itself into a circular geostationary orbit more than 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers) over the equator.

The Falcon 9 rocket launching Telstar 19 VANTAGE will fly in the upgraded “Block 5” configuration. It will be the second Falcon 9 Block 5 launch after the new rocket version debuted in May.

The timeline below outlines the launch sequence for the Falcon 9 flight with Telstar 19 VANTAGE.

Data source: SpaceX

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+0:01:06: 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+0:01:12: 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+0:02:30: MECO

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

T+0:02:33: 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+0:02:34: 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 six-minute burn to put the rocket and Telstar 19 VANTAGE into a preliminary parking orbit.

T+0:03:40: 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+0:06:12: 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+0:08:12: 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 Telstar 19 VANTAGE begin a coast phase scheduled to last more than 18 minutes before the second stage Merlin vacuum engine reignites.

T+0:08:29: Stage 1 Landing

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

T+0:26:49: 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 Telstar 19 VANTAGE communications satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit.

T+0:27:39: 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 Telstar 19 VANTAGE satellite in the proper orbit for deployment.

T+0:32:40: Telstar 19 VANTAGE 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 Telstar 19 VANTAGE satellite separates from the Falcon 9 rocket in a geostationary transfer orbit.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


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