November 13, 2019

Falcon 9 launch timeline for the Starlink 1 mission


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EDITOR’S NOTE: Updated to reflect new launch attempt May 23.

Follow the key events of the Falcon 9 rocket’s ascent to orbit 60 satellites for SpaceX’s Starlink broadband network.

The 229-foot-tall (70-meter) rocket will lift off Thursday during a 90-minute opening at 10:30 p.m. EDT (0230 GMT Friday) from the Complex 40 launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The Falcon 9 will head northeast from Cape Canaveral over the Atlantic Ocean to place the 60 Starlink satellites into a circular orbit around 273 miles (440 kilometers) above Earth.

The Falcon 9’s first stage will target a landing on SpaceX’s drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” in the Atlantic Ocean nearly 400 miles northeast of Cape Canaveral.

The first stage booster launching tonight previous flew on two missions — the Telstar 18 VANTAGE launch from Florida in September 2018 and SpaceX’s eighth mission for Iridium from California in January.

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 40.

T+0:01:13: 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, a few seconds after surpassing the speed of sound.

T+0:02:31: 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+0:02:41: Stage 2 Ignition

The second stage Merlin 1D vacuum engine ignites for an approximately 6-minute burn to inject the Jason 3 satellite into a parking orbit.
The second stage Merlin 1D vacuum engine ignites for an approximately 6-minute burn to inject the Starlink satellites into a parking orbit.

T+0:03:33: 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+0:06:43: Stage 1 Entry Burn Complete

A subset of the first stage’s Merlin 1D engines completes an entry burn to slow down for landing. A final landing burn will occur just before touchdown on SpaceX’s drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” around 385 miles (620 kilometers) northeast of Cape Canaveral.

T+0:08:17: Stage 1 Landing

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

T+0:08:46: SECO 1

The Merlin 1D vacuum engine turns off after placing the Jason 3 satellite in temporary parking orbit, beginning at 46-minute coast in orbit.
The Merlin 1D vacuum engine turns off after placing the Starlink satellites in a temporary parking orbit, beginning a 37-minute coast in space.

T+0:46:11: Stage 2 Restart

The Falcon 9's second stage engine ignites again for a 12-second burn to circularize its orbit.
The Falcon 9’s second stage engine ignites again for a 3-second burn to circularize its orbit.

T+0:46:14: SECO 2

The Merlin 1D vacuum engine shuts down after reaching a target orbit with a high point of 857 miles (1,380 kilometers), a low point of 825 miles (1,328 kilometers) and an inclination of 66 degrees.
The Merlin 1D vacuum engine shuts down after reaching a target orbit about 273 miles (440 kilometers) high with an inclination of approximately 53 degrees.

T+1:02:14: Begin Starlink Deployments

The 60 flat-panel Starlink satellites, each with a mass of about 500 pounds (227 kilograms) begin deploying from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


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