October 22, 2020

H-2A launch timeline with the Emirates Mars Mission


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It will take approximately one hour for a Japanese H-2A rocket to propel the Hope Mars orbiter on a trajectory to escape Earth’s gravitational bond, kicking off a seven-month journey to the Red Planet.

The 174-foot-tall (53-meter) rocket is set for liftoff at 5:58:14 p.m. EDT (2158:14 GMT) Sunday from Launch Pad No. 1 at the Yoshinobu launch complex located at the Tanegashima Space Center. The spaceport is situated on Tanegashima Island on the southern end of the Japanese main islands.

Liftoff is timed for 6:58 a.m. Japan Standard Time on Monday.

The launch will mark the 42nd flight of an H-2A rocket since 2001, and Japan’s third space launch of 2020. It will also be the first H-2A launch to carry a mission to Mars, and the fourth H-2A rocket mission with a probe heading to another world, following flights that deployed spacecraft destined for the moon, Venus, and an asteroid.

The Emirates Mars Mission’s Hope spacecraft will enter orbit around the Red Planet in February 2021 and gather data on the Martian climate and weather.

The timeline below outlines the launch sequence for the H-2A flight with the Emirates Mars Mission’s Hope spacecraft.

See our Mission Status Center for full coverage of the countdown and launch.

Data source: MHI

T-0:00:00: Liftoff

With its LE-7A main engine and two solid rocket boosters firing to produce 1.4 million pounds of thrust, the 174-foot-tall H-2A rocket lifts off from the Yoshinobu launch complex on Tanegashima Island. A few moments later, the rocket will complete a pitch program to head east from the launch site.

T+0:01:31: SRB-A Burnout

The H-2A’s two solid rocket boosters exhaust their propellant and burn out at an altitude of 131,000 feet (40,000 meters).

T+0:01:46: SRB-A Jettison

The two solid rocket boosters are jettisoned to fall into the Pacific Ocean. The LE-7A main engine continues firing with around 250,000 pounds of thrust.

T+0:04:06: Payload Fairing Jettison

After traversing the dense lower atmosphere and reaching an altitude of 87 miles (141 kilometers), the rocket releases the 4-meter (13.1-foot) diameter payload fairing protecting the spacecraft during the early part of the flight.

T+0:06:34: MECO

After consuming its liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants, the LE-7A first stage main engine shuts down. The first stage and solid rocket boosters push the rocket to a velocity of more than 11,000 mph (about 5 kilometers per second).

T+0:06:42: Stage Separation

The H-2A rocket’s first stage is separated now, having completed its job. The spent stage will fall into the Pacific Ocean downrange from Tanegashima.

T+0:06:52: Second Stage Ignition 1

With the first stage jettisoned, the rocket’s second stage takes over. The LE-5B hydrogen-fueled engine ignites at an altitude of more than 134 miles (217 kilometers) to accelerate the payloads to orbital velocity during its first of two burns. The LE-5B engine generates about 31,000 pounds of thrust in vacuum.

T+0:11:21: SECO 1

The LE-5B second stage engine shuts down after reaching its specified orbital targets. This completes the first burn of the second stage.

T+0:56:39: Second Stage Ignition 2

After coasting for more than 45 minutes and crossing over the Pacific Ocean and South America, the H-2A rocket’s second stage LE-5B engine fires again to propel the UAE’s Hope spacecraft on an escape trajectory toward Mars.

T+1:00:33: SECO 2

The LE-5B second stage engine shuts down after reaching an escape trajectory at a velocity of approximately 21,000 mph.

T+1:01:34: Hope Separation

The nearly 3,000-pound (1,350-kilogram) Hope spacecraft separates from the H-2A upper stage to begin a seven-month journey to Mars.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


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