SpaceX launches from Florida; California Launch Delayed – Spaceflight Now
Watch our live coverage of the countdown and launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 11:50 PM EST (0450 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, featuring 40 OneWeb Internet satellites. follow us on Twitter.
SpaceX is counting down to launching a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral at 11:50 p.m. EST Monday (0450 GMT Tuesday) with 40 Internet satellites left for OneWeb. The Falcon 9 booster returns to Cape Canaveral eight minutes later to land.
SpaceX postponed the launch of another Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California Monday night due to bad weather. That mission was supposed to launch from Cape Canaveral just 35 minutes before the OneWeb mission.
The weather forecast in Florida is more favorable Monday evening, with a greater than 90% chance of good weather for the launch of the 40 OneWeb satellites.
The SpaceX launch team, working in a control center just outside the gate of Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, will begin loading supercooled, compressed kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants into the Falcon 9 vehicle at T-minus 35 minutes.
In the last half hour of the countdown, helium propellant will also flow into the rocket. In the last seven minutes before liftoff, the Falcon 9’s Merlin main engines are thermally conditioned for flight through a procedure known as “chilldown”. The Falcon 9’s guidance and range safety systems will also be configured for launch.
After launch, the Falcon 9 rocket will vector 1.7 million pounds of thrust — produced by nine Merlin engines — to send it down. The launch from California will fly southeast across the Pacific Ocean and fly west of Baja California in an orbit inclined 70 degrees from the equator. Departing from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, the Falcon 9 will initially head southeast and then turn south to fly parallel to Florida’s east coast, aiming for a polar trajectory with an 87-degree inclination.
The launch vehicle exceeds the speed of sound in about a minute and then shuts down its nine main engines nearly two and a half minutes after launch.
The booster stage separates from the Falcon 9’s upper stage, then fires pulses from cold gas control thrusters and extends titanium grille fins to propel the vehicle back into the atmosphere. The lighter weight of the 40 OneWeb satellites allows the Falcon 9 booster to set aside enough fuel for the maneuver to return to the launch site, requiring additional fire to return to Cape Canaveral.
A salvage vessel is also on station in the Atlantic Ocean to retrieve the Falcon 9’s fairing after it ejects from the rocket.
The mission will target a 373-mile high orbit inclined 87 degrees from the equator. The Falcon 9 upper stage will release the 40 OneWeb satellites approximately 59 minutes after launch. The satellites will use xenon propulsion systems to reach their operating altitude at 1,200 kilometers above Earth.
The OneWeb launch from Cape Canaveral will be the second of four planned SpaceX missions for the broadband internet provider, which last year suspended launches of Russian Soyuz rockets after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Within weeks, OneWeb signed new contracts with SpaceX and New Space India Ltd., or NSIL, for launches on Falcon 9 and Indian GSLV Mk.3 rockets to complete the company’s satellite network buildout.
The 40 satellites aboard the Falcon 9 rocket will bring the total number of OneWeb spacecraft launched to 544. OneWeb needs 588 operational satellites to complete its first-generation broadband network, or a total of nearly 650 spacecraft if we count spares.
Adding more relay stations to the constellation increases the reach of the network. OneWeb already provides internet service to communities in Alaska, Canada and Northern Europe where terrestrial fiber connections are not available. The 40 satellites at Monday night’s launch will bring Southern Europe, the United States, North Africa, the Middle East, Japan, and parts of Australia and India within OneWeb’s reach.
OneWeb’s contract with SpaceX was surprising to many viewers of the satellite industry because OneWeb is an indirect competitor in the broadband market. SpaceX sells the Starlink service directly to consumers, while OneWeb sells to enterprises, internet service providers, maritime companies and airlines to provide connectivity for entire businesses or communities.
ROCKETS: Falcon 9 (B1076.2)
LOAD: 40 OneWeb satellites (OneWeb 16)
LAUNCH SITES: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida
LAUNCH DATES: January 9, 2023
LAUNCH TIME: 23:50:17 (0450:17 GMT)
WEATHER FORECAST: More than 90% chance of acceptable weather at Cape Canaveral
BOOSTER RECOVERY: Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station
START AZIMUTH: Southeast, then south of Cape Canaveral
GOAL JOB: 373 miles (600 kilometers), 87 degrees incline
LAUNCH TIMELINE FOR ONEWEB 16:
- T+00:00: Launch
- T+01:12: Maximum Aerodynamic Pressure (Max-Q)
- T+02:18: First stage main engine shutdown (MECO)
- T+02:21: Step separation
- T+02:28: Second stage engine ignition
- T+02:34: First stage boost backburn ignition
- T+03:21: First stage boost back burn cutoff
- T+03:34: Throw cockpit overboard
- T+06:20: First stage input fire ignition
- T+06:36: First stage burn
- T+07:27: First stage landing fire ignition
- T+07:56: First stage landing
- T+08:32: Engine cut second stage (SECO 1)
- T+55:14: Second stage motor restart (SES 2)
- T+55:17: Second stage motor cutout (SECO 2)
- T+58:49: Separation of the first OneWeb satellites
- T+01:35:17: Separation of last OneWeb satellites
- 196th Falcon 9 rocket launch since 2010
- 205th launch of the Falcon family of rockets since 2006
- 2nd launch of Falcon 9 booster B1076
- 168th SpaceX launch from Florida’s Space Coast
- 109th Falcon 9 launch from pad 40
- 164th general launch from pad 40
- 135th flight of a repurposed Falcon 9 booster
- 2nd SpaceX launch for OneWeb
- 16th general launch for OneWeb
- 2nd Falcon 9 launch of 2023
- 2nd launch by SpaceX in 2023
- 2nd orbital launch from Cape Canaveral in 2023
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