August 18, 2018

Falcon 9 launch timeline with Merah Putih


If you would like to see more articles like this please support our coverage of the space program by becoming a Spaceflight Now Member. If everyone who enjoys our website helps fund it, we can expand and improve our coverage further.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is set for liftoff from Cape Canaveral on Tuesday, heading due east over the Atlantic Ocean to deliver the Merah Putih 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 1:18 a.m. EDT (0518 GMT) Tuesday at the opening of a two-hour launch window.

The Falcon 9 rocket set for launch Tuesday is the first to re-fly an upgraded Block 5 configuration first stage. The same booster first flew on the maiden Falcon 9 Block 5 mission in May.

Perched atop the rocket is the Merah Putih communications satellite, a spacecraft manufactured by SSL — formerly known as Space Systems/Loral — and owned by Telkom Indonesia.

The U.S.-built, Indonesian-owned satellite will provide C-band telecommunications services over Indonesia and India, along with other parts of South and Southeast Asia.

SSL completed construction of the Merah Putih satellite ahead of schedule, according to Telkom Indonesia. The new satellite will replace Telkom 1, which failed in a mysterious debris-shedding event in geostationary orbit last year.

Officials from Telkom Indonesia expected the Telkom 1 satellite, which launched in 1999, to remain operational until Merah Putih’s launch. But Telkom 1’s failure last year forced the operator to re-route communications traffic through other satellites.

The Merah Putih satellite is designed for a 16-year life, its owner said in a statement. The spacecraft will be positioned in geostationary orbit more than 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers) over the equator at 108 degrees east longitude.

Based on SSL’s 1300-series satellite platform, Merah Putih carries 60 C-band transponders with coverage across the Indonesian archipelago, and other parts of South and Southeast Asia. The satellite will provide Internet, telephone and cellular backhaul services, according to SSL.

The timeline below outlines the launch sequence for the Falcon 9 flight with Merah Putih, including the descent of its first stage back to SpaceX’s drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” in the Atlantic Ocean east of Cape Canaveral.

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+0:01:09: 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+0:01:19: 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+0:02:34: 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: 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 Merah Putih into a preliminary parking orbit.

T+0:03:28: 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+0:06:13: 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+0:08:06: 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 Merah Putih begin a coast phase scheduled to last more than 18 minutes before the second stage Merlin vacuum engine reignites.

T+0:08:08: Stage 1 Landing

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

T+0:26:15: 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 Merah Putih communications satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit.

T+0:27:13: 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 Merah Putih satellite in the proper orbit for deployment.

T+0:32:40: Merah Putih 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 Merah Putih satellite separates from the Falcon 9 rocket in a geostationary transfer orbit.

Email the author.

Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


If you would like to see more articles like this please support our coverage of the space program by becoming a Spaceflight Now Member. If everyone who enjoys our website helps fund it, we can expand and improve our coverage further.
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!