December 19, 2018

Falcon 9 launch timeline with Es’hail 2


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 Thursday, heading due east over the Atlantic Ocean to deliver the Es’hail 2 communications satellite into orbit around 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 3:46 p.m. EST Thursday (2046 GMT) at the opening of a 103-minute launch window.

Perched atop the rocket is the Es’hail 2 communications satellite, a spacecraft manufactured in Japan by Mitsubishi Electric Corp. for Es’hailSat, Qatar’s national satellite communications company.

The satellite carries Ku-band and Ka-band transponders to beam broadband connections, television and other data relay services across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.

After deployment from the upper stage of the Falcon 9 rocket in an elliptical transfer orbit, Es’hail 2 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 at 26 degrees east longitude.

Es’hail 2, based on Melco’s DS2000 satellite bus, is designed for a 15-year mission.

The Falcon 9 rocket launching Es’hail 2 will fly in the upgraded “Block 5” configuration, with a new second stage and a first stage previously flown on the Telstar 19 VANTAGE launch in July.

The timeline below outlines the launch sequence for the Falcon 9 flight with Es’hail 2.

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+0:00:59: 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+0:01:06: 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+0:02:35: MECO

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

T+0:02:39: 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+0:02:46: 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 Es’hail 2 into a preliminary parking orbit.

T+0:03:47: 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+0:06:22: Stage 1 Entry Burn

A subset of the first stage’s Merlin 1D engines ignite for an entry burn to slow down for landing on SpaceX’s drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. A final landing burn will occur just before touchdown.

T+0:08:07: 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 Es’hail 2 begin a coast phase scheduled to last more than 18 minutes before the second stage Merlin vacuum engine reignites.

T+0:08:16: Stage 1 Landing

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

T+0:26:34: 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 Es’hail 2 communications satellite into an elliptical transfer orbit.

T+0:27:29: 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 Es’hail 2 satellite in the proper elliptical orbit for deployment.

T+0:32:29: Es’hail 2 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 Es’hail 2 satellite separates from the Falcon 9 rocket into an elliptical transfer orbit, on the way to a perch in geostationary 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!