SpaceX is gearing up for another Falcon 9 launch attempt tonight

A live feed of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket countdown and launch from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The Starlink 4-34 mission will launch SpaceX’s next 54 Starlink broadband satellites. Follow us Twitter.

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The next launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is now scheduled for 8:18 p.m. EDT Sunday (0018 GMT Monday) to orbit 54 more Starlink internet satellites. The mission was delayed for five days due to storms around the launch site.

A 70-meter-tall Falcon 9 rocket will launch SpaceX’s Starlink 4-34 mission. The weather forecast for Sunday evening indicates a 40% chance of acceptable conditions for takeoff.

The SpaceX launch team halted the Falcon 9 countdown Tuesday evening before beginning to load boosters onto the Falcon 9 rocket. Lightning lit up the sky over Florida’s Space Coast overnight. Similar weather conditions forced officials to call for another pre-tank cleanup Wednesday night, and Thursday night SpaceX stopped the countdown from D-minus 30 seconds because the timing was “not right” for the launch. .

SpaceX loaded thrusters into the Falcon 9 on Friday night, but T-minus stopped the 60-second countdown. Teams were initially targeting another launch attempt on Saturday, but SpaceX announced Saturday night that the mission would be rescheduled for Sunday night.

The flight will mark SpaceX’s 42nd Falcon 9 launch so far in 2022. It was the 40th space launch attempt from Florida’s Space Coast this year, including launches from SpaceX, United Launch Alliance and Astra .

Once lifted off, the upper stage of the Falcon 9 rocket will launch satellites over the North Atlantic Ocean 15 minutes after liftoff. The 54 Starlink satellites have a total payload mass of approximately 36,800 pounds, or 16.7 metric tons.

Starlink 4-34 will be the third of five Falcon 9 missions on SpaceX’s schedule this month. SpaceX aims to complete more than 60 launches this year, targeting 100 rocket missions by 2023, Tom Osinero, SpaceX’s vice president of commercial sales, said Tuesday at the World Satellite Business Week conference in Paris. initiation.

The high launch rate was helped by shorter returns between missions at launch pads in Florida and California and the reuse of SpaceX Falcon 9 thrusters and payload fairings. SpaceX’s Internet Starlink, like the Friday night mission, has accounted for two-thirds of the company’s Falcon 9 flights so far this year.

SpaceX began flying 54 Starlink satellites last month on dedicated Falcon 9 flights. SpaceX has been experimenting with various engine throttle settings and other minor modifications to extend the Falcon 9’s performance.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket docks at Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station ahead of Starlink Mission 4-34. Credit: Stephen Clark / Space Travel Now

SpaceX tested the Falcon 9 rocket for Starlink mission 4-34 on the launch pad on September 11. On September 10, a severe storm swept through Cape Canaveral Spaceport, disrupting the sustained gunnery effort.

The booster, designated B1067 on SpaceX’s list of reusable rockets, is heading for its sixth flight into space on Sunday evening. The booster previously sent two astronauts to the International Space Station and two resupply flights to the station. It also launched the Turkish communication satellite Turksat 5B.

With Sunday night’s Starlink 4-34 mission, SpaceX launched 3,347 Starlink internet satellites, including prototypes and test units that are no longer in service. Saturday’s launch was SpaceX’s 61st mission, primarily dedicated to putting Starlink internet satellites into orbit.

The SpaceX launch team, stationed inside the Missile Control Center south of Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, will begin loading dense, supercooled liquid oxygen and kerosene boosters onto the Falcon vehicle. 9 of 70 meters high at T-minus. 35 minutes.

Helium pressure will also flow into the rocket during the last half hour of the countdown. During the last seven minutes before liftoff, Falcon 9’s Merlin main engines are thermally stabilized for flight through a process known as “relaxation”. Falcon 9’s range guidance and protection system will also be built for the launch.

After liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket will fire its 1.7 million pounds of thrust – produced by nine Merlin engines – in a northeast direction over the Atlantic Ocean.

The rocket will exceed the speed of sound for about a minute, then come to a halt two and a half minutes after its nine main engines lift off. The booster stage will exit from the Falcon 9 upper stage, then burn off pulses from cold gas control thrusters and extend titanium grid fins to help propel the vehicle through the atmosphere.

Two brake burns slowed the landing of the rocket aboard the drone, which “read the instructions” for about 650 kilometers before landing in about eight and a half minutes.

Credit: Space Travel Now

Falcon 9’s reusable payload shroud burns out during secondary combustion. A salvage vessel is also on hand to recover two parts of the nose cone after being parachuted into the Atlantic.

The first leg of Sunday’s mission will land minutes after the Falcon 9’s second-stage engine shut down to put the Starlink satellites into orbit. 54 The Starlink spacecraft, built by SpaceX in Redmond, Washington, will separate from a Falcon 9 rocket in T+Plus 15 minutes and 21 seconds.

Retention rods protrude from the Starlink payload stack, allowing compact satellites to fly freely from Falcon 9’s upper position in orbit. Spacecraft 54 ​​will deploy solar arrays and go through automated activation stages, then use krypton-powered ion engines to maneuver into their operational orbits.

The Falcon 9 guidance system aims to position the satellites in an elliptical orbit inclined at 53.2 degrees relative to the equator. The satellites use onboard propulsion to do the rest of the work to reach a circular orbit about 540 kilometers from Earth.

Starlink satellites will fly in one of five orbital “shells” at varying inclinations for SpaceX’s global internet network. After reaching operational orbit, the satellites will enter commercial service and begin transmitting broadband signals to customers who can purchase Starlink service and connect to the network with a ground terminal provided by SpaceX.

Rocket: Falcon 9 (B1067.6)

Payload : 54 Starlink satellites (Starlink 4-34)

Launch website: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida

Release date of: September 18, 2022

Release time: 8:18 p.m. EDT (0018 GMT September 19)

Weather forecast: 40% chance of acceptable weather conditions; Low risk of high winds; Low risk of adverse conditions for booster recovery

Boost recovery: Drone “Read Directions” cruises east of Charleston, SC

Initialize the azimuth: Northeast

Target orbit: 144 by 208 miles (232 by 336 kilometers), 53.2 degree grade

Start the timeline:

  • T+00:00: Takeoff
  • T+01:12: Maximum atmospheric pressure (Max-Q)
  • T+02:27: First stage main engine shutdown (MECO)
  • T+02:31: Separation of levels
  • T+02:36: Secondary engine ignition
  • T+02:42: Fairing rejected
  • T+06:48: First stage intake combustion ignition (three engines)
  • T+07:07: First stage inlet combustion shutdown
  • T+08:26: Ignition of the first stage landing rocket (one engine)
  • T+08:40: Secondary motor shutdown (SECO 1)
  • T+08:47: First stage landing
  • T+15:21: Separation of Starlink satellites

Employment statistics:

  • 176th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket since 2010
  • 184th launch of the Falcon family of rockets since 2006
  • 6th launch of the Falcon 9 booster B1067
  • 151st Falcon 9 launch from Florida’s Space Coast
  • The 97th Falcon 9 launched from Pad 40
  • Bad 40’s 152nd overall release
  • 118th flight of a repurposed Falcon 9 booster
  • 61st dedicated Falcon 9 launch with Starlink satellites
  • Launch of the 42nd Falcon 9 in 2022
  • SpaceX’s 42nd launch in 2022
  • 40th orbital launch attempt from Cape Canaveral in 2022

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Follow Stephen Clarke on Twitter: @Stephen Clark1.

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