Live streaming of the countdown and launch of SpaceX’s 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 broadband Starlink satellites. Follow us at Twitter.
SpaceX is counting down to the liftoff of a Falcon 9 rocket and 52 more Starlink Internet satellites on Tuesday at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The commercial mission is set to launch into low Earth orbit at 10:14 p.m. EDT (0214 GMT), and the reusable Falcon 9 first stage will be aimed at landing an offshore drone.
The launch team bypassed the launch opportunity at 6:57 p.m. EDT (2257 GMT) due to adverse upper-level winds. There is a 70 percent chance of favorable weather for takeoff on Tuesday, according to the U.S. Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron.
The Falcon 9 rocket will head northeast from the Kennedy Space Center, aiming to deliver the flat-pack Broadband Relay Stations to an orbit ranging between 144 miles and 208 miles high (232 by 338 kilometers). Deployment of the 52 flat satellites from the Falcon 9 upper stage will occur about 15 minutes after liftoff.
With Tuesday’s mission, designated Starlink 4-26, SpaceX will launch 3.09 Starlink Internet satellites, including prototypes and test units that are no longer in service. Tuesday’s launch will mark SpaceX’s 54th mission, dedicated primarily to putting Starlink Internet satellites into orbit.
Located in a firing hall at Kennedy Launch Control Center, the SpaceX launch team will begin loading supercooled, condensed kerosene and liquid oxygen into the 229-foot (70-meter) Falcon 9 vehicle at T-minus 35 minutes ..
The helium compressor will also flow into the rocket during the last half hour of the countdown. In the final seven minutes before liftoff, Falcon 9’s main Merlin engines will be thermally conditioned for flight through a procedure known as “cooling down.” Falcon 9’s guidance and safety systems will also be configured for launch.
After liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket will direct its 1.7 million pounds of thrust, produced by nine Merlin engines, to head northeast over the Atlantic Ocean.
The rocket will exceed the speed of sound for about one minute, then shut down its nine main engines two and a half minutes after liftoff. The booster stage will release from the Falcon 9’s upper stage, then fire pulses of cold gas thrusters and expand titanium grids to help guide the vehicle back into the atmosphere.
Two brake burns will slow the “A Shortfall of Gravitas” unmanned spacecraft lander about 400 miles (650 kilometers) down approximately eight and a half minutes after liftoff.
The booster flying on the Starlink 4-26 mission, known as B1073, will be launched on its third trip into space. It debuted in May with a previous launch for the Starlink program, then flew again on June 29 with the SES 22 commercial broadcast satellite.
The landing of the mission’s first stage on Tuesday will occur moments after the Falcon 9’s second stage engine cuts off to deliver the Starlink satellites into orbit. The separation of the 52 spacecraft, built by SpaceX in Redmond, Washington, from the Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled for T+15 minutes, 24 seconds.
The hold-down rods will release from the Starlink payload package, allowing the planar satellites to fly free from the Falcon 9’s upper stage in orbit. Spacecraft 52 will deploy solar arrays and go through automated activation steps, then use krypton-fueled ion thrusters to maneuver into their operational orbit.
Falcon 9’s guidance computer aims to place the satellites into an elliptical orbit at an orbital inclination of 53.2 degrees to the equator. The satellites will use onboard propulsion to do the rest of the work to reach a circular orbit 335 miles (540 kilometers) above Earth.
The Starlink satellites will fly in one of five orbital “shells” at different inclinations for SpaceX’s global internet network. Once they reach their operating orbit, the satellites will enter commercial service and begin broadcasting broadband signals to users who can purchase Starlink service and connect to the network with a ground terminal supplied by SpaceX.
ROCKET: Falcon 9 (B1073.3)
PAYLOAD: 52 Starlink satellites (Starlink 4-26)
LAUNCH SITE: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida
START DATE: Aug. 9, 2022
NOON: 22:14:40 EDT (0214:40 GMT)
WEATHER FORECAST: 70% chance of acceptable weather; Low risk of upper level winds; Low risk of adverse conditions for booster recovery
BOOSTER RECOVERY: “A Shortfall of Gravitas” drone ship east of Charleston, South Carolina
LAUNCH AZIMUTH: Northeast
TARGET ORBIT: 144 miles by 208 miles (232 kilometers by 335 kilometers), 53.2 degree gradient
- T+00:00: Take off
- T+01:12: Maximum aerodynamic pressure (Max-Q)
- T+02:26: First Stage Main Engine Shutdown (MECO)
- T+02:30: Stage split
- T+02:36: Second stage engine ignition
- T+02:41: Fairing jettisoning
- T+06:45: Ignition of first entry stage (three engines)
- T+07:06: Interruption of combustion on entry into first stage
- T+08:19: First stage landing ignition (one engine)
- T+08:43: Second stage engine shutdown (SECO 1)
- T+08:44: First stage landing
- T+15:24: Separation of Starlink satellites
- The 169th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket since 2010
- 177th launch of the Falcon rocket family since 2006
- 3rd launch of Falcon 9 booster B1073
- The 146th Falcon 9 launch from Florida’s Space Coast
- SpaceX’s 53rd launch from pad 39A
- 147th start overall from pad 39A
- 111th flight of a reused Falcon 9 booster
- 54th special launch of Falcon 9 with Starlink satellites
- 35th Falcon 9 launch for 2022
- 35th SpaceX launch in 2022
- 35th orbital launch attempt from Cape Canaveral in 2022
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