SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch timeline with SXM 8 satellite

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Image Courtesy: SpaceX
Image Courtesy: SpaceX

New Delhi : SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is set for liftoff from Cape Canaveral on Sunday morning, heading due east over the Atlantic Ocean. It will be carrying the SXM 8 radio broadcasting satellite to place it into orbit around 32 minutes later.

The 229-foot-tall (70-meter) rocket has been scheduled to launch from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida during a one-hour, 59-minute launch window opening at 12:26 a.m. EDT (0426 GMT) Sunday.

Perched atop the rocket is the SXM 8 radio broadcasting satellite, a spacecraft manufactured by Maxar Technologies in Palo Alto, California, and owned by SiriusXM.

After Falcon 9's deployment in the elliptical transfer orbit, the SXM 8 spacecraft will use its on-board thrusters to boost itself into a circular geostationary orbit more than 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers) over the equator.

Based on Maxar’s 1300-series satellite bus, SXM 8 will provide radio programming to SiriusXM’s subscribers across North America.

The Falcon 9 first stage booster set to loft the SXM 8 payload has two previous flights to its credit, both of which were Crew Dragon missions carrying astronauts to the International Space Station.

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The timeline below outlines the launch sequence for the Falcon 9 flight with SXM 8.

T-0:00:00: Liftoff

After the rocket’s nine Merlin engines pass an automated health check, hold-down clamps will release the Falcon 9 booster for liftoff from pad 39A.

T+0:01:00: Mach 1

The Falcon 9 rocket reaches Mach 1, the speed of sound, as the nine Merlin 1D engines provide more than 1.7 million pounds of thrust.

T+0:01:12: Max Q

The Falcon 9 rocket reaches Max Q, the point of maximum aerodynamic pressure.

T+0:02:33: MECO

The Falcon 9’s nine Merlin 1D engines shut down.

T+0:02:36: Stage 1 Separation

The Falcon 9’s first stage separates from the second stage moments after MECO.

T+0:02:44: First Ignition of Second Stage

The second stage Merlin-Vacuum engine ignites for a five-and-a-half-minute burn to put the rocket and Turksat 5A spacecraft into a preliminary parking orbit.

T+0:03:23: Fairing Jettison

The 5.2-meter (17.1-foot) diameter payload fairing jettisons once the Falcon 9 rocket ascends through the dense lower atmosphere. The 43-foot-tall fairing is made of two clamshell-like halves composed of carbon fiber with an aluminum honeycomb core.

T+0:06:31: Stage 1 Entry Burn Begins

A subset of the first stage’s Merlin 1D engines begin an entry burn to slow down for landing. A final landing burn will occur just before touchdown.

T+0:08:12: SECO 1

The second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket shuts down after reaching a preliminary low-altitude orbit. The upper stage and SXM 8 begin a coast phase scheduled to last 18 minutes before the second stage Merlin vacuum engine reignites.

T+0:08:40: Stage 1 Landing

The Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage booster touches down on SpaceX’s drone ship “Just Read the Instructions” in the Atlantic Ocean.

T+0:26:07: Second Ignition of Second Stage

The Falcon 9’s second stage Merlin engine restarts to propel the SXM 8 communications satellite into an elliptical transfer orbit.

T+0:26:51: SECO 2

The Merlin engine shuts down after a short burn to put the SXM 8 satellite in the proper elliptical orbit with an apogee of about 12,000 miles (20,000 kilometers).

T+0:31:42: SXM 8 Separation

The SXM 8 satellite separates from the Falcon 9 rocket into an elliptical transfer orbit, on the way to a perch in geostationary orbit.

(Data Source: SpaceX)