Watch premium coverage of the countdown and launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 11:50 pm EST (0450 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Station, Florida, with 40 OneWeb internet satellites. Follow us in Twitter.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Monday night with 40 more Internet satellites for OneWeb, bringing the network closer to reaching full capacity. Falcon 9 returned to Cape Canaveral eight minutes after takeoff.
The 229-foot-long (70-meter) Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Block 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Station at 11:50:17 pm EST (0450:17 GMT). The rocket thundered into the sky with the force of 1.7 million pounds of thrust from Merlin’s nine kerosene-fueled main engines, kicking off SpaceX’s second mission of the year.
SpaceX postponed the launch of a different Falcon 9 rocket from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Monday night due to bad weather. That mission was supposed to launch just 35 minutes before the OneWeb mission from Cape Canaveral, but has now been canceled for liftoff Tuesday night.
The SpaceX launch team working in the control center outside the gate of the Cape Canaveral Space Station loading super-cooled, condensed kerosene and liquid oxygen propellant into the Falcon 9 vehicle at T-minus 35 minutes.
Helium pressure was also flowing into the rocket in the last half hour. In the last seven minutes before liftoffs, the Falcon IX’s Merlin main flight engines were thermally conditioned through a process known as “cooling”. The Falcon 9’s guidance and security systems were also configured for launch.
After liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket turned its passenger to the east-southeast across the Atlantic Ocean, then the launch turned south to fly parallel to the east coast of Florida, aiming for a polar orbit at an inclination of 87 degrees.
The rocket exceeded the speed of sound in about one minute, then shut down its nine main engines about two and a half minutes after liftoff.
The launch stage separated from the Falcon 9’s upper stage, then fired a thruster from the cold gas control system and extended the titanium fins to help steer the vehicle back into the atmosphere. The lighter weight of the 40 Satellite OneWeb allowed the Falcon 9 to drop enough propellant to return to the launch site, which would burn an additional engine compared to the rocket ports on SpaceX’s ocean-going drone ships.
The first steps of egress into Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral took place about eight minutes into the mission. The returning booster sent a pair of booming booms along the Florida coast and slowed to port. The first stage, designated B1076, completed its second space mission on Monday night.
A recovery ship was also on station in the Atlantic Ocean to recover the Falcon 9 payload after it was ejected from the rocket.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral at 11:50 pm EST (0450 GMT), carrying 40 OneWeb satellites into polar orbit. https://t.co/oYLCqEq2lj pic.twitter.com/fK4MZwHbHl
– Spaceflight Now (@SpaceflightNow) on January 10, 2023
The Falcon 9 upper stage fired its single engine twice to reach a near polar orbit near the mission’s target at an altitude of 373 miles (600 kilometers). Above, the 40 OneWeb satellites launched about 59 minutes after liftoff began, and SpaceX confirmed that they all left the space station about 1 hour and 35 minutes into the flight.
OneWeb satellites, built in a facility outside the gates of the Kennedy Space Center, will use xenon-fueled propulsion systems to reach an operating altitude of 745 miles (1,200 kilometers) above Earth.
OneWeb’s launch from Cape Canaveral on Monday night is the second of four planned SpaceX missions for the Internet broadcasting provider, which is launching a suspension on Russian Soyuz rockets next year after Russia invaded Ukraine. Within weeks, OneWeb signed new contracts with SpaceX and New Space India Ltd., or NSIL, to launch Falcon 9 and GSLV Mk.3 Indian rockets to build the company’s satellite network.
SpaceX confirms that all 40 OneWeb satellites have been separated from the Falcon 9 rocket into orbit. https://t.co/oYLCqEq2lj pic.twitter.com/YnQIANeaYE
– Spaceflight Now (@SpaceflightNow) on January 10, 2023
The 40 satellites on board the Falcon 9 rocket brought OneWeb’s space count to 544. OneWeb needs 588 operational satellites to complete the first generation of the Arms network, or a total of about 650 space counts.
More station runners are added to extend the reach of the constellation network. London-based OneWeb already provides Internet services to companies in Alaska, Canada, and northern Europe, where terrestrial fiber connectivity is inaccessible. The 40 satellites launched on Monday night will help reach southern Europe, the United States, North Africa, the Middle East, Japan, and parts of Australia and India within OneWeb.
OneWeb’s deal with SpaceX surprised many satellite industry watchers because OneWeb has become an indirect competitor in the broadcast market. SpaceX Starlink sells the service directly to consumers, while OneWeb sells the service to businesses, internet providers, shipping companies, and airlines to provide connectivity for entire businesses or communities.
ROCKETS: Falcon 9 (B1076.2)
PAYLOADS: 40 OneWeb satellites (OneWeb 16)
SEND YOUR SITE: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Station, Florida
SEND THE DATES: 9 Jan
SEND TIME: 11:50:17 pm (0450:17 GMT)
STORMS ARE FORECASTED: Greater than 90% chance of acceptable weather at Cape Canaveral
RECOVERY BOOSTER: Posted in Zone 1 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station
SEND AZIMUTH: south, then south from Cape Canaveral
PARMA ORBITS: 373 miles (600 kilometers), 87 degrees of inclination
SEND TIMELINE FOR ONEWEB 16;
- T+00:00: Liftoff
- T+01:12: Maximum aerodynamic pressure (Max-Q)
- T+02:18: First stage main engine interval (MECO)
- T+02:21: Time of separation
- T+02:28: Second stage engine ignition
- T+02:34: first stage boost back burn ignition
- T+03:21: first stage boost back burn interval
- T+03:34: Fairing jettison
- T + 06:20: The first stage entry ignites the ignition
- T+06:36: First stage entry to burn interval
- T + 07:27: The fire in the first stage of the port is burning
- T+07:56: The first port scene
- T+08:32: Second stage engine interval (SECO 1)
- T+55:14: Second stage engine restart (SES 2)
- T+55:17: Second stage engine interval (SECO 2)
- T+58:49: Separation of the first OneWeb satellites
- T+01:35:17: Separation of the final OneWeb satellites
- 196 Falcon 9 rocket launches since 2010
- 205th launch of the Falcon rocket family since 2006
- 2 Launch Falcon 9 course B1076
- 168th SpaceX launch from Florida’s Space Coast
- 109th Falcon 9 launch from pad 40
- 164th launch from a total of 40 pads
- 135th flight of the Falcon guilty of 9 courses
- 2 SpaceX launch for OneWeb
- 16th overall for OneWeb
- Falcon 2nd 9 launch of 2023
- 2nd launch by SpaceX in 2023
- 2nd orbital launch from Cape Canaveral in 2023
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