EDITOR’S NOTE: Updated March 16 with new target launch date.
Follow the key events of the Falcon 9 rocket’s ascent to orbit with 60 satellites for SpaceX’s Starlink broadband network.
The 229-foot-tall (70-meter) rocket is scheduled to lift off Wednesday at 8:16 a.m. EDT (1216 GMT) from the pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The Falcon 9 will head northeast from Cape Canaveral over the Atlantic Ocean to place the 60 Starlink satellites into an elliptical orbit ranging between 130 miles (210 kilometers) and 227 miles (366 kilometers) above Earth. The satellites will use their ion thrusters to maneuver into their higher orbit for testing, before finally proceeding to an operational orbit at an altitude of approximately 341 miles (550 kilometers).
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 (630 kilometers) northeast of Cape Canaveral.
The first stage booster launching Wednesday previously flew on four missions. The booster first launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base with 10 Iridium Next satellites in July 2018, then launched again in October 2018 from Vandenberg with Argentina’s SAOCOM 1A radar observation satellite. The booster’s third mission carried the Indonesian Nusantara Satu communications satellite and Israeli Beresheet lunar lander into space in February 2019, and the first stage most recently launched in November with 60 Starlink satellites.
Thee payload fairing on Wednesday’s flight previously flew in May 2019 on SpaceX’s first dedicated Starlink launch.
For Sunday’s mission, SpaceX will attempt to catch both halves of the Falcon 9’s payload fairing using nets aboard the ocean-going ships “Ms. Tree” and “Ms. Chief” in the Atlantic Ocean. The attempt to catch the fairing will come around 45 minutes after liftoff.
Data source: SpaceX
T+0:01:12: Max Q
T+0:02:36: Stage 1 Separation
T+0:02:43: Stage 2 Ignition
T+0:03:10: Fairing Jettison
T+0:06:59: Stage 1 Entry Burn Complete
T+0:08:35: Stage 1 Landing
T+0:08:52: SECO 1
T+0:14:48: Starlink Deployment
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