Falcon 9 launches Starlink satellites, Boeing transport payload

Live coverage of the countdown and launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The Starlink 4-20 mission will launch SpaceX’s next batch of 51 Starlink broadband satellites and Boeing’s passenger payload to demonstrate broadband communications technology. follow us Twitter.

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SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket Sunday evening carrying 51 Starlink internet satellites and a payload that would use an orbital transport vehicle built in spaceflight to soar to higher orbit to test Boeing’s broadband communications technology.

Launch of Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station aboard a Falcon 9 rocket took place at 10:09:40 PM EDT (0209:40 GMT Monday), marking SpaceX’s 40th launch of the year.

According to the US Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron, there was an 80% chance that the weather was suitable for a Sunday night launch chance.

The main payload for Sunday night’s mission, dubbed Starlink 4-20, was SpaceX’s next batch of Starlink internet satellites. The rocket was carrying 51 flathead Starlink spacecraft, fewer than the number carried in a typical Starlink launch from Florida, to accommodate the passenger payload.

The secondary passenger was the Sherpa-LTC orbital transport vehicle with chemical propulsion that rides on the Starlink payload stack in the Falcon 9. The Sherpa-LTC orbital transport vehicle was designed by Spaceflight, a Seattle-based developer of spacecraft and rideshare launch pad. , to transport Small satellites organize experiments to different heights and inclinations after a first flight into orbit from a large rocket.

This 200-second exposure shows a Falcon 9 rocket falling into space Sunday evening from Cape Canaveral. Credit: Michael Caine/Spaceflight Now/Coldlife Photography

The Sherpa-LTC orbital transport vehicle on the Starlink 4-20 mission is equipped with Boeing’s Varuna Technology Demonstration, or Varuna-TDM. The mission aims to demonstrate technologies and conduct in-orbit performance testing of the V-band communications system, a lunar constellation of 147 satellites to provide broadband connectivity to commercial users and the United States government.

Boeing said the Varuna-TDM mission will provide potential users of the broadband satellite constellation “an opportunity to assess the performance of fifth band communications links and determine their characteristics and acceptability for specific applications.”

The Falcon 9 rocket put the Sherpa-LTC Transfer Vehicle with the Varuna tech experimental mission into semicircular orbit at an average altitude of about 192 miles (310 kilometers) above Earth and an inclination of 53.2 degrees from the equator. .

Sherpa-LTC was first deployed approximately 49 minutes post-flight, followed by the separation of 51 Starlink satellites on T+ plus 72 minutes.

The solar-powered orbital transport vehicle will perform a series of burns to reach a circular orbit 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) above Earth, where it will begin the experimental Varuna tech mission. The experimental payload Varuna technology was designed and built by Astro Digital, which also provided the command and control system for the Sherpa-LTC orbital transport vehicle.

The mission patch for the Sherpa-LTC mission shows an illustration of an orbital transfer vehicle built into Spaceflight. credit: spaceflight

The Sherpa-LTC uses a two-way, “green,” or non-toxic propulsion system developed by Benchmark Space Systems.

“Sherpa-LTC’s transportation capabilities combined with the reliability and consistency of Starlink missions create an ideal solution for a customer’s unique mission needs,” said Kurt Blake, CEO and president of Spaceflight. “Our OTV removes the barriers that make it difficult for spacecraft to reach unfamiliar orbits in LEO and beyond. We are eager to continue providing innovative, cost-effective and reliable space transportation services to our customers and partners such as Astro Digital.”

With Sunday’s Starlink 4-20 mission, SpaceX launched 3,259 Starlink Internet satellites, including prototypes and test units that are no longer in service. Sunday night’s launch was SpaceX’s 59th mission, which was primarily intended to put Starlink’s internet satellites into orbit.

The SpaceX launch team, stationed at the Launch Control Center south of Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, began loading ultra-cold condensed kerosene and liquid oxygen thrusters into the 229-foot (70-meter) Falcon 9 at T-minus 35 minutes .

Compressor helium also flowed into the rocket in the last half hour of the countdown. In the final seven minutes before takeoff, the Falcon 9 Merlin’s main engines were thermally modified to fly in a procedure known as “chilldown.” The Falcon 9’s guidance system and remote protection are also configured for launch.

After launch, the Falcon 9 rocket sent 1.7 million pounds of thrust — produced by nine Merlin engines — northeast across the Atlantic.

The rocket exceeded the speed of sound in about a minute and then shut down its nine main engines two and a half minutes after takeoff. The boost stage was fired from the upper stage of the Falcon 9 and then pulses from cold throttle engines and extended titanium grille fins to send the vehicle back into the atmosphere.

Brake burns slowed the rocket as it landed about 400 miles (650 kilometers) on the “read instructions” drone ship after about eight and a half minutes of takeoff.

The first phase for Sunday’s launch is scheduled for B1052 in SpaceX’s inventory. The booster craft made its seventh flight into space. This vehicle flew as a side-booster on two Falcon Heavy missions in 2019 and was then converted to fly as the first stage on a Falcon 9 rocket, which began operations earlier this year.

The Falcon 9’s reusable fairing was discarded, resulting in a second stage. The rescue ship was also at a station in the Atlantic to retrieve the halves of the nose cone after being sprayed under parachutes.

The landing on the first stage of Sunday’s mission occurred moments after the Falcon 9’s second stage engine failed to put the Starlink satellites into primary transfer orbit. A second upper stage burned about 45 minutes after launch, placing the charges in orbit suitable for the separation.

After the Sherpa-LTC payloads were launched, the upper stage rails were removed from the Starlink payload stack, allowing the flat-packed satellites to orbit free of the Falcon 9’s upper stage. The 51 spacecraft will launch and power the solar panels through automated activation steps, then use krypton-powered ion engines to maneuver into their operational orbit.

The satellites will use the onboard thrust to do the rest of the work to reach a circular orbit 335 miles (540 kilometers) above Earth.

Starlink satellites fly in one of five orbital “shells” in different directions to SpaceX’s global internet. After reaching operational orbit, the satellites will enter commercial service and begin transmitting broadband signals to consumers, who can purchase the Starlink service and connect to the network via a SpaceX ground station.

Rocket ship: Falcon 9 (B1052.7)

Payload: 51 Starlink and Sherpa LTC satellites (Starlink 4-20)

launch site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral, Florida Space Station

lunch date: September 4, 2022

launch time: 22:09:40 EST (0209:40 GMT)

weather forecast: 80% chance of acceptable weather; low risk of wind at the highest level; Reduced risk of conditions unfavorable for improved recovery

Reinforcement recovery: Drone “Just read the instructions” Drone east of Charleston, South Carolina

AZIMUTH LAUNCH: the northeast

target job: 188 miles by 196 miles (304 kilometers by 316 kilometers), 53.2 degree miles

Launch timeline:

  • T+00:00: take off
  • T+01: 12: maximum air pressure (Max-Q)
  • T+02:29: First stage main engine shutdown (MECO)
  • T+02:33: Phase separation
  • T+02:39: Engine ignition second stage (SES 2)
  • T+03:13: Away with the rest
  • T+06:05: Ignition of combustion entering the first stage (three engines)
  • T+06:36: First stage combustion entry cut off
  • T+08:05: 1st stage burner ignition (single engine)
  • T+08:27: Landing first kick
  • T+08:45: Engine shutdown in second stage (SECO 1)
  • T + 45: 25: ignition of the engine in the second stage (SES 2)
  • T+45: 27: second stage engine shutdown (SECO 2)
  • T+49: 28: Sherpa-LTC Chapter
  • T+1:12:23: Starlink Satellite Separation

Job stats:

  • The 174th launch of the Falcon 9 since 2010
  • The Falcon family’s 182nd launch since 2006
  • Seventh launch of Falcon 9 Booster B1052
  • Falcon 9 #149 launched from Florida’s space coast
  • Launch of Falcon 9 No. 96 from the 40. platform
  • The 151st release overall of the 40 board
  • Flight 116 of the repurposed Falcon 9 booster
  • The launch of the 59th special Falcon 9 with Starlink satellites
  • The 40th session of Falcon 9 starts in 2022
  • SpaceX40 will be launched in 2022
  • The 38th orbital launch attempt from Cape Canaveral in 2022

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Tags: Falcon launches Starlink satellites Boeing transport payload

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