Live stream 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 4-25 mission will launch SpaceX’s next batch of 53 Starlink broadband satellites. Follow us at Twitter.
On Sunday, SpaceX launched another cluster of 53 Starlink internet satellites aboard a Falcon 9 rocket into orbit, marking the company’s 33rd mission of the year and its sixth launch in July. Takeoff from pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida occurred at 9:38 a.m. EST (13:38 GMT).
A Falcon 9 booster has landed on a SpaceX drone parked in the Atlantic Ocean northeast of Cape Canaveral.
The rocket headed northeast from the Kennedy Space Center, aiming to deliver flat-panel broadband relay stations into an orbit between 144 and 210 miles (232 by 338 kilometers). The deployment of 53 flat satellites from the Falcon 9 upper stage occurred about 15 minutes after liftoff.
On Sunday’s mission, designated Starlink 4-25, SpaceX launched 2,957 Starlink Internet satellites, including prototypes and test devices that are no longer in use. Sunday’s launch marked SpaceX’s 53rd mission, primarily dedicated to placing Starlink internet satellites into orbit.
While in the firing room at the Kennedy Launch Control Center, the SpaceX launch team began loading super-cooled, compacted kerosene and liquid oxygen into a 229-foot (70-meter) Falcon 9 rocket in minus 35 minutes.
In the last half hour of the countdown, helium sealant also hit the rocket. In the last seven minutes before liftoff, the Falcon 9 Merlin’s main engines were heat-treated for flight in a procedure known as “chilling”. The Falcon 9’s range guidance and safety systems were also set up for launch.
After liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket reversed the 1.7 million pounds of thrust generated by nine Merlin engines and headed northeast over the Atlantic Ocean.
The rocket broke the speed of sound in about one minute, and two and a half minutes after launch, it turned off nine main engines. The booster stage emerged from the Falcon 9’s upper stage, then fired pulses from the cold gas control thrusters and extended titanium lattice stabilizers to help propel the craft back into the atmosphere.
Two decelerations slowed the launch of the rocket before landing on the Lack of Gravity unmanned craft by about 400 miles (650 kilometers) in range about eight and a half minutes after liftoff.
The launch vehicle flying the Starlink 4-25 mission, known as B1062, has launched its eighth flight into space. It debuted with the launch of the U.S. military GPS navigation satellite in November 2020, followed by the privately launched Inspiration4 and Axiom-1 missions in September 2021 and this April.
Most recently, the booster flew on June 8 along with the Egyptian geostationary communications satellite Nilesat 301.
Sunday’s mission’s first stage landing came seconds after the Falcon 9’s second stage engine shut down to carry the Starlink satellites into orbit. The separation of 53 spacecraft built by SpaceX in Redmond, Washington, from the Falcon 9 rocket occurred at T+plus 15 minutes 24 seconds.
The holding rods are released from the Starlink payload stack, allowing the flat-packed satellites to fly freely from the Falcon 9 upper stage into orbit. 53 spacecraft will deploy solar panels and go through automatic activation stages, and then, using krypton-powered ion engines, will enter their working orbit.
The Falcon 9 guidance computer aims to put satellites into an elliptical orbit with an orbital inclination of 53.2 degrees to the equator. The satellites will use their onboard thrusters to do the rest of the job of reaching a circular orbit 335 miles (540 kilometers) above the Earth.
The Starlink satellites will fly in one of five orbital “shells” at different angles of inclination for SpaceX’s global internet network. After reaching their operating orbit, the satellites will begin commercial operation and begin transmitting broadband signals to consumers, who can purchase the Starlink service and connect to the network using a ground terminal provided by SpaceX.
Including Sunday’s Starlink 4-25 mission, SpaceX launched six Falcon 9 rockets in just 17 days this month, deploying 251 Starlink Internet satellites on five flights, as well as sending a Dragon cargo capsule to the International Space Station.
ROCKET: Falcon 9 (B1062.8)
PAYLOAD: 53 Starlink satellites (Starlink 4-25)
STARTING SITE: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida
LAUNCH DATE: July 24, 2022
STARTING TIME: 9:38:20 am EDT (13:38:20 GMT)
WEATHER FORECAST: 80% chance of acceptable weather; Low risk of high winds; Low risk of adverse conditions for booster recovery
RECOVERY FASTER: The Lack of Gravity drone ship east of Charleston, South Carolina.
LAUNCH AZIMUT: To the northeast
TARGET ORBIT: 144 miles by 210 miles (232 km by 338 km), tilt 53.2 degrees
- T+00:00: Start
- T+01:12: Maximum aerodynamic pressure (Max-Q)
- T+02:27: First stage main engine shutdown (MECO)
- T+02:30: stage separation
- T+02:37: Second stage engine ignition.
- T+02:42: Fairing reset
- T+06:48: First stage ignition (three engines).
- T+07:08: Shutdown of combustion at the input of the first stage.
- T+08:25: First stage ignition on landing (single engine)
- T+08:43: Second stage engine shutdown (SECO 1)
- T+08:46: Landing of the first stage.
- T+15:24: Separation of Starlink satellites
- 167th Falcon 9 launch since 2010.
- 175th Falcon family missile launch since 2006
- 8th Falcon 9 launch B1062
- 144th Falcon 9 launch from the Florida Space Coast.
- 52nd SpaceX launch from pad 39A
- 146th launch in general from pad 39A
- 109th flight of the reusable Falcon 9 launch vehicle
- 53rd dedicated Falcon 9 launch with Starlink satellites
- 33rd Falcon 9 launch in 2022
- 33rd SpaceX launch in 2022
- 32nd orbital launch attempt from Cape Canaveral in 2022.
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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.
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