November 20, 2018

Falcon 9 launch timeline with Telstar 18 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 18 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 11:28 p.m. EDT Sunday (0328 GMT Monday) at the opening of a four-hour launch window.

Perched atop the rocket is the Telstar 18 VANTAGE communications satellite, a spacecraft manufactured by SSL — formerly known as Space Systems/Loral — and owned by Ottawa-based Telesat in partnership with APT Satellite of Hong Kong.

Telstar 18 VANTAGE weighs 15,564 pounds (7,060 kilograms) with its propellant tanks fully loaded, making it one of the heaviest commercial communications satellites ever launched, just shy of a record set in July with the launch of the Telstar 19 VANTAGE spacecraft on a previous Falcon 9 rocket.

After deployment from the upper stage of the Falcon 9 rocket in an elliptical transfer orbit, Telstar 18 VANTAGE will use its on-board hydrazine-fueled engine and electric thrusters to boost itself into a circular geostationary orbit more than 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers) over the equator.

The U.S.-built, Canadian-owned satellite will beam C-band and Ku-band broadband services over the Asia-Pacific region.

Once Telstar 18 VANTAGE arrives at its operating post, it will beam high-throughput signals to serve direct-to-home broadcast, video distribution, maritime, and other telecom markets. Carrying a combination of broad regional beams and high-bandwidth spot beams, the satellite’s coverage area will span from India and Pakistan in the west, to Hawaii in the east.

APT Satellite — also known as APSTAR — paid for 57.5 percent of the mission’s cost in exchange for use of the same percentage of the satellite’s communications capacity.

The Falcon 9 rocket launching Telstar 18 VANTAGE will fly in the upgraded “Block 5” configuration, with a brand new first stage booster.

The timeline below outlines the launch sequence for the Falcon 9 flight with Telstar 18 VANTAGE.

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+0:01:00: Mach 1

The Falcon 9 rocket reaches Mach 1, the speed of sound.
The Falcon 9 rocket reaches Mach 1, the speed of sound, as the nine Merlin 1D engines provide more than 1.7 million pounds of thrust.

T+0:01:07: 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+0:02:33: MECO

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

T+0:02:37: 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+0:02:45: 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 18 VANTAGE into a preliminary parking orbit.

T+0:03:29: 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+0:06:17: 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+0:08:14: 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 18 VANTAGE begin a coast phase scheduled to last more than 18 minutes before the second stage Merlin vacuum engine reignites.

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+0:26:17: 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 18 VANTAGE communications satellite into an elliptical transfer orbit.

T+0:27:00: 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 18 VANTAGE satellite in the proper elliptical orbit for deployment.

T+0:32:01: 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 18 VANTAGE satellite separates from the Falcon 9 rocket into an elliptical transfer orbit, on the way to a perch in geostationary orbit.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


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