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 4-25 mission will launch SpaceX’s next batch of 53 Starlink broadband satellites. Follow us Twitter.
SpaceX sent another batch of 53 Starlink internet satellites into orbit on Sunday aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, the company’s 33rd mission of the year and sixth launch in July. Liftoff took place from Platform 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 9:38 a.m. EDT (1338 GMT).
The Falcon 9 booster has landed aboard the parked SpaceX drone in the Atlantic Ocean northeast of Cape Canaveral.
The rocket headed northeast of the Kennedy Space Center, aiming to deliver packed broadband relay stations into an orbit between 144 miles and 210 miles (232 x 338 kilometers). 53 flat-packed satellites deployed from the upper stage of the Falcon 9 about 15 minutes after liftoff.
With Sunday’s mission, designated Starlink 4-25, SpaceX launched 2,957 Starlink Internet satellites, including prototypes and test units that are no longer in service. Sunday’s launch marks SpaceX’s 53rd 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 checked its 1.7 million pounds of thrust — produced by nine Merlin engines — for guidance 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 ballistic burns slowed the missile as it landed aboard the drone ship “A Shortfall of Gravitas” about 400 miles (650 kilometers) after about eight and a half minutes of take-off.
The Starlink 4-25 mission’s booster rocket, known as B1062, has been launched on its eighth flight into space. It debuted with the launch of the US military GPS navigation satellite in November 2020, and launched the entire Inspiration4 and Axiom-1 crewed missions in September 2021 and in April of this year.
Recently, the booster rocket flew on June 8 with the Egyptian geostationary communications satellite Nilesat 301.
The first-stage landing on Sunday’s mission occurred moments after the Falcon 9’s second-stage engine failed to deliver Starlink satellites into orbit. The 53rd spacecraft, built by SpaceX in Redmond, Washington, separated 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 53 spacecraft will rotate 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 orbital 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 to SpaceX’s global Internet. 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.
Including the Starlink 4-25 mission on Sunday, SpaceX launched six Falcon 9 rockets in just 17 days this month, deploying 251 Starlink internet satellites on five flights while also sending a Dragon cargo capsule to the International Space Station.
Rocket: Falcon 9 (B1062.8)
Payload: 53 Starlink satellites (Starlink 4-25)
launch site: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Lunch date: 24 July 2022
launch time: 9:38:20 AM EST (1338:20 GMT)
weather forecast: 80% 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 210 miles (232 kilometers by 338 kilometers), 53.2 degrees miles
- T+00:00: take off
- T+01: 12: maximum air pressure (Max-Q)
- T+02:27: First stage main engine cut-off (MECO)
- T+02:30: Separation of the stage
- T+02:37: Ignite the engine in the second stage
- T+02:42: Get rid of the calm
- T+06:48: first stage entry burn ignition (three engines)
- T+07:08: first stage entry combustion cutoff
- T+08:25: 1st stage combustion ignition (single engine)
- T+08:43: Second stage engine cut-off (SECO 1)
- T+08:46: First stage landing
- T+15:24: Starlink satellite disconnect
- The 167th launch of the Falcon 9 since 2010
- The 175th launch of the Falcon family since 2006
- The eighth launch of the Falcon 9 Booster B1062
- Falcon 9 #144 launched from Florida’s space coast
- SpaceX52 launched from platform 39A
- 146th release overall from board 39A
- Flight 109 of the reused Falcon 9 booster
- The launch of the 53rd dedicated Falcon 9 with Starlink satellites
- The 33rd launch of Falcon 9 in 2022
- Launching SpaceX33 in 2022
- The 32nd orbital launch attempt from Cape Canaveral in 2022
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