SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is set for liftoff from Cape Canaveral on Thursday, heading due east over the Atlantic Ocean to deliver the Turkish Turksat 5A 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 during a four-hour launch window opening at 8:28 p.m. EST Thursday (0128 GMT Friday).
Perched atop the rocket is the Turksat 5A communications satellite, a spacecraft manufactured by Airbus Defense and Space in Toulouse, France, and owned by the Turkish operator Turksat.
After deployment from the upper stage of the Falcon 9 rocket in an elliptical transfer orbit, the Turksat 5A spacecraft will use its on-board electric thrusters to boost itself into a circular geostationary orbit more than 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers) over the equator.
Based on Airbus’s Eurostar E3000EOR satellite design, Turksat will provide data relay and TV broadcast services for commercial customers and the Turkish government.
The Falcon 9 first stage booster set to loft the Turksat 5A payload has three previous flights to its credit. Each half of the Falcon 9’s reusable payload shroud has flown on one prior mission.
The timeline below outlines the launch sequence for the Falcon 9 flight with Turksat 5A.
Check out video highlights released by Virgin Galactic of Thursday’s test flight by the company’s SpaceShipTwo rocket plane to an altitude of 271,000 feet, above a boundary recognized by the U.S. government as the edge of space.
The 32-story-tall mobile service tower at the Delta 4’s launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California was retracted away from the rocket Thursday in advance of a planned liftoff with a top secret National Reconnaissance Office payload.
Staying true to a corporate philosophy that favors high-visibility flight tests, SpaceX plans to continue wringing out major parts of the company’s human-rated Dragon spaceship in a sequence of dramatic flights leading up to the capsule’s first crewed mission scheduled for 2017.