October 22, 2020

Falcon 9 launch timeline with JCSAT 8/Kacific 1


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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 JCSAT 18/Kacific 1 communications satellite into orbit around 33 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 7:10 p.m. EST Monday (0010 GMT Tuesday) at the opening of an 88-minute launch window.

Perched atop the rocket is the JCSAT 18/Kacific 1 communications satellite, a spacecraft manufactured by Boeing in El Segundo, California, and jointly owned by Sky Perfect JSAT Corp. of Tokyo and Kacific Broadband Satellites of Singapore.

The JCSAT 18/Kacific 1 satellite weighs 15,335 pounds (6,956 kilograms) with its propellant tanks fully loaded, making it one of the heaviest satellites ever launched by SpaceX.

After deployment from the upper stage of the Falcon 9 rocket in an elliptical transfer orbit, the JCSAT 18/Kacific 1 spacecraft 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 JCSAT 18/Kacific 1 spacecraft will park itself in geostationary orbit at 150 degrees east longitude, where it will operate over a fixed geographic position during its 15-year mission.

Sky Perfect JSAT will use its Ku-band capacity on the satellite to support mobile and broadband services over Japan, the Asia-Pacific and far eastern Russia. Kacific’s portion of the satellite’s Ka-band payload will provide Internet service to under-served populations across Southeast Asia and the Pacific islands.

The Falcon 9 first stage booster set to loft the JCSAT 18/Kacific 1 payload has flown twice before on a pair of space station resupply missions earlier this year. The timeline below outlines the launch sequence for the Falcon 9 flight with JCSAT 18/Kacific 1.

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+0:01:13: 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.

T+0:02:32: MECO

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

T+0:02:35: 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+0:02:42: 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 five-and-a-half-minute burn to put the rocket and JCSAT 18/Kacific 1 spacecraft into a preliminary parking orbit.

T+0:03:35: 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+0:06:14: 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+0:08:11: 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 JCSAT 18/Kacific 1 begin a coast phase scheduled to last more than 19 minutes before the second stage Merlin vacuum engine reignites.

T+0:08:38: Stage 1 Landing

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

T+0:27:21: 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 JCSAT 18/Kacific 1 communications satellite into an elliptical transfer orbit.

T+0:28:09: 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 JCSAT 18/Kacific 1 satellite in the proper elliptical orbit for deployment.

T+0:33:10: JCSAT 18/Kacific 1 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 JCSAT 18/Kacific 1 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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