Live coverage of the countdown and launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Starlink 4-26 mission will launch SpaceX’s next batch of 53 Starlink broadband satellites. Follow us Twitter.
SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket and 52 Starlink internet satellites on Tuesday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The commercial mission to low Earth orbit took off at 10:14 p.m. EDT (0214 GMT), and the first reusable stage of the Falcon 9 landed aboard an unmanned ship.
The launch team passed the launch opportunity at 6:57 PM EDT (2257 GMT) due to unfavorable upper level winds.
The Falcon 9 rocket headed northeast of the Kennedy Space Center, aiming to deliver packed broadband relay stations into an orbit between 144 miles and 208 miles (232 x 338 kilometers). 52 flat-packed satellites were deployed from the upper stage of the Falcon 9 about 15 minutes after liftoff.
With Tuesday’s mission, designated Starlink 4-26, SpaceX launched 3009 Starlink Internet satellites, including prototypes and test units that are no longer in service. Tuesday’s launch marks SpaceX’s 54th mission primarily dedicated to moving Starlink’s internet satellites into orbit.
Stationed inside a firing room at the Kennedy Launch Control Center, the SpaceX launch team began loading ultra-cold, condensed kerosene and liquid oxygen thrusters into the 229-foot (70 m) Falcon 9 into the 35-minute T-minus.
Compressor helium also poured into the rocket in the last half hour of the countdown. In the last seven minutes before takeoff, the Falcon 9 Merlin’s main engines were thermally adapted to fly by a procedure known as “chilldown”. The Falcon 9’s guidance and field safety systems are also configured for launch.
After liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket directed its 1.7 million pounds of force – produced by nine Merlin engines – to steer in the northeast Atlantic.
The missile exceeded the speed of sound in about one minute, and then shut down its nine main engines two and a half minutes after takeoff. The boost stage was fired from the Falcon 9’s upper stage, then fired pulses from cold gas control thrusters and extended titanium grille fins to help steer the vehicle back into the atmosphere.
Two pelvic burns slowed the missile as it landed aboard the “A Shortfall of Gravitas” drone about 400 miles (650 kilometers) after about eight and a half minutes of take-off.
The booster that flew on the Starlink 4-26 mission, known as B1073, was launched on its third flight into space. It debuted in May with a previous Starlink launch, and then flew again on June 29 with the SES 22 commercial broadcast television satellite.
Tuesday’s mission’s first stage landing occurred moments after the Falcon 9’s second stage engine failed to deliver Starlink satellites into orbit. The 52nd spacecraft, built by SpaceX in Redmond, Washington, has been confirmed to separate from the Falcon 9 rocket at T+ plus 15 minutes and 24 seconds.
Retaining rods were fired from the Starlink payload stack, allowing the flat-packed satellites to fly freely from the Falcon 9’s upper stage into orbit. The 52 spacecraft will launch and power the solar arrays through automated activation steps, then use krypton-fueled ion engines to maneuver into their operational orbit.
The Falcon 9’s guidance computer aims to deploy the satellites into an elliptical orbit at an inclination of 53.2 degrees to the equator. The satellites will use onboard thrust to do the rest of the work to reach a circular orbit 335 miles (540 kilometers) above Earth.
Starlink satellites will fly in one of five orbital “shells” in different directions of the global Internet for SpaceX. After reaching their operational orbit, the satellites will enter commercial service and begin transmitting broadband signals to consumers, who can purchase Starlink service and connect to the network through a ground station provided by SpaceX.
Rocket: Falcon 9 (B1073.3)
Payload: 52 Starlink satellites (Starlink 4-26)
launch site: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Lunch date: August 9, 2022
launch time: 10:14:40 PM EST (0214:40 GMT)
weather forecast: 70% chance of acceptable weather; low risk of upper level winds; Reduced risk of conditions unfavorable to enhanced recovery
Recovery from reinforcement: Drone ship named “A Shortfall of Gravitas” east of Charleston, South Carolina
AZIMUTH LAUNCH: the Northeast
target orbit: 144 miles by 208 miles (232 kilometers by 335 kilometers), 53.2 degrees miles
- T+00:00: take off
- T+01: 12: maximum air pressure (Max-Q)
- T+02:26: 1st stage for main engine cut-off (MICO)
- T+02:30: Separation of the stage
- T+02:36: Ignite the engine in the second stage
- T+02:41: Get rid of the calm
- T+06:45: Ignition of burning entering the first stage (three engines)
- T+07:06: First stage entry combustion cut off
- T+08:19: 1st stage burner ignition (single engine)
- T+08:43: Second stage engine cut-off (SECO 1)
- T+08:44: First stage landing
- T+15:24: Starlink satellite disconnect
- 169th Falcon 9 launch since 2010
- The 177th launch of the Falcon family since 2006
- Third launch of Falcon 9 Booster B1073
- Falcon 9 146 launched from the Space Coast in Florida
- SpaceX53 launched from platform 39A
- 147th release overall from board 39A
- Flight 111 of the reused Falcon 9 booster
- The launch of the 54th dedicated Falcon 9 with Starlink satellites
- The 35th Falcon 9 launch in 2022
- The 35th SpaceX launch in 2022
- The 35th orbital launch attempt launched from Cape Canaveral in 2022
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