SpaceX completes launch doubleheader with sundown liftoff from Cape Canaveral – Spaceflight Now

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Watch a replay of our stay protection of the countdown and launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Area Launch Advanced 40 at Cape Canaveral Area Power Station, Florida. The Falcon 9 rocket launched the SES 18 and SES 19 geostationary communications satellites. Comply with us on Twitter.

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SpaceX launched two Falcon 9 rockets in a span of a little bit greater than 4 hours Friday, a record-setting day that started with the launch of 52 Starlink web satellites from California and ended with the sundown liftoff of two SES tv broadcast payloads from Florida.

The back-to-back missions, simply 4 hours and 12 minutes aside, set a file for the shortest span between two SpaceX Falcon 9 launches within the firm’s historical past. It improved on the seven-hour turnaround between Falcon 9 launches achieved by SpaceX final October.

The launch doubleheader file is an organization greatest for SpaceX. With as much as 100 missions deliberate this yr and three operational launch pads, SpaceX’s file for turnaround time between Falcon 9 launches could possibly be damaged once more within the coming months.

The back-to-back missions have been SpaceX’s 18th and nineteenth flights of the yr, and 211th and 212th flights total by a Falcon 9 rocket.

The primary launch of the day took off from Vandenberg Area Power Base in California northwest of Los Angeles at 12:26:40 p.m. PDT (3:26:40 p.m. EDT; 1926:40 GMT), with a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 52 satellites for SpaceX’s Starlink web community.

The mission from California, designated Starlink 2-8, was SpaceX’s 77th launch with the first function of inserting Starlink web satellites into orbit. The Falcon 9’s first stage, tail quantity B1071, indifferent from the higher stage and descended to a drone ship west of Baja California for touchdown about eight-and-a-half minutes after liftoff, finishing the reusable booster’s eighth flight to area.

The higher stage delivered the 52 Starlink satellites to a low-altitude orbit and launched them quarter-hour into the mission. With the recent satellites launched Friday, SpaceX has now despatched 4,105 Starlink spacecraft into orbit, together with take a look at autos and prototypes. SpaceX at the moment has greater than 3,700 energetic Starlink satellites in orbit, in keeping with a tally by Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist and professional tracker of spaceflight exercise.

SpaceX plans to launch hundreds extra Starlink satellites within the coming years to increase the community’s capability to offer high-speed, low-latency broadband service all over the world.

The Starlink 2-8 mission focused Shell 2 within the first-generation Starlink constellation, which is unfold into quite a few orbital planes in 5 orbital groupings. The satellites in Shell 2 fly in orbits inclined 70 levels to the equator roughly 350 miles above Earth.

See our Mission Status Center for our play-by-play updates of the Falcon 9 flight from Vandenberg.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket climbs away from Vandenberg Area Power Base, California, on Friday with 52 Starlink web satellites. Credit score: William G. Hartenstein

4 hours later, a special SpaceX crew in Florida readied one other Falcon 9 rocket for liftoff at 7:38 p.m. EDT (2338 GMT) with two SES tv broadcasting satellites, persevering with a multibillion-dollar program to clear C-band spectrum for terrestrial broadband.

The TV satellites have been stacked one on prime of the opposite contained in the payload fairing of the Falcon 9 rocket when it took off a couple of minutes after sundown. With clear skies, native residents and vacationers loved spectacular views of the Falcon 9 because it climbed into daylight, trailing an increasing plume of exhaust from its kerosene-fueled engines.

The Northrop Grumman-built SES 18 and 19 communications launched to kick off 15-year missions relaying C-band video and tv programming for media networks and cable suppliers throughout North America.

After groups verified technical and climate parameters have been all “inexperienced” for launch, the 9 Merlin 1D major engines on the primary stage booster flashed to life with the assistance of an ignition fluid referred to as triethylaluminum/triethylborane, or TEA-TEB. As soon as the engines ramped as much as full throttle, hydraulic clamps opened to launch the Falcon 9 for its climb into area from pad 40.

The 9 major engines produced 1.7 million kilos of thrust for about two-and-a-half minutes, propelling the Falcon 9 and and the SES 18 and 19 communications satellites into the higher ambiance. Then the booster stage — tail quantity B1069 in SpaceX’s fleet — shut down and separated from the Falcon 9’s higher stage.

The booster prolonged titanium grid fins and pulsed chilly gasoline thrusters to orient itself for a tail-first entry again into the ambiance. The higher stage fired its single Merlin engine and jettisoned the clamshell-like payload shroud on prime of the rocket, revealing the SES 18 and 19 satellites to the atmosphere of area.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral with the SES 18 and SES 19 communications satellites. Credit score: Michael Cain / Spaceflight Now / Coldlife Pictures

The Falcon 9 remained in view of launch watchers at Cape Canaveral for greater than six minutes, because of good visibility on the Florida spaceport. The booster stage, higher stage, and the 2 halves of the payload fairing have been briefly seen from the bottom, lit by the day’s waning daylight to seem like transferring stars throughout the nightfall sky.

The booster reignited three of its engines for a braking burn, then lit its heart engine for a last touchdown burn throughout vertical descent to the drone ship “Simply Learn the Directions” parked about 420 miles (about 670 kilometers) east of Cape Canaveral. SpaceX confirmed landing of the reusable first stage B1069, competing its sixth flight to area.

The Falcon 9 aimed to launch the SES 18 and 19 satellites into an elliptical “sub-synchronous” switch orbit with an apogee, or excessive level, wanting the satellites’ last 22,000-mile-high working altitude in geostationary orbit. The lower-than-usual deployment orbit for a geostationary mission allowed the Falcon 9 rocket to raise each satellites on one mission, and provides the Falcon 9’s reusable first stage booster sufficient reserve propellant to return to touchdown on the drone ship within the Atlantic Ocean.

In launch configuration, the 2 practically equivalent satellites weighed 15,995 kilos (7,255 kilograms), in keeping with a Northrop Grumman spokesperson. The decrease satellite tv for pc within the dual-payload stack, SES 19, weighed about 100 kilos greater than the higher satellite tv for pc as a result of it carries structural elements to immediately join the spacecraft collectively in the course of the journey into orbit.

The Falcon 9 rocket’s higher stage ignited its Merlin Vacuum engine two instances, first to position the SES satellites right into a low-altitude parking orbit, then to boost the apogee of the orbit to a distance hundreds of miles above Earth.

SES 18 separated from the launcher about 32 minutes after liftoff by firing a pyrotechnical gadget to launch a clamp band connecting it with SES 19, which rode within the decrease place of the dual-satellite stack. SES 19 separated from the Falcon 9’s higher stage about 5 minutes later, 37 minutes into the mission.

SES 18 and 19 will unfurl their photo voltaic panels and full a sequence of post-launch checkouts, then use a hydrazine-fueled major engine to reshape its orbit from the elliptical, or oval-shaped, switch orbit the Falcon 9 will put them in after Friday’s launch. The satellites will maneuver into round geostationary orbits some 22,000 miles (practically 36,000 kilometers) over the equator, the place their velocity will match the speed of Earth’s rotation, retaining them over the identical location on the planet and offering a hard and fast protection zone for his or her C-band broadcast antennas.

SES 18 and 19 are the fourth and fifth new C-band communications satellites to affix SES’s fleet within the final 9 months. The flurry of recent C-band satellite tv for pc launches stem from a 2020 order for six new spacecraft, together with a spare, as a part of a Federal Communications Fee determination to clear 300 megahertz of C-band spectrum for the roll-out of 5G cell connectivity networks.

“This profitable launch marks one of many final remaining milestones on our journey to clear a portion of the C-band, and we’re extremely grateful to Northrop Grumman, SpaceX, and all of our companions who helped make this plan a actuality,” mentioned Steve Collar, CEO of SES. “We are actually on the house stretch in defending our clients’ broadcasts whereas liberating essential 5G spectrum and we look ahead to efficiently concluding our work effectively earlier than the FCC’s December 2023 accelerated clearing deadline.”

The Starlink 2-8 mission launched from California on Friday added 52 extra satellites to SpaceX’s Starlink fleet. Credit score: Spaceflight Now

The brand new C-band satellites will function in a narrower swath of spectrum, enabling the published of digital TV companies to almost 120 million houses in the USA, whereas clearing the 300 megahertz of spectrum now assigned to be used by 5G operators.

The FCC auctioned U.S. C-band spectrum — beforehand used for satellite-based video broadcast companies to tens of millions of consumers — to 5G operators, that are paying satellite tv for pc operators like SES by multibillion-dollar compensation agreements. Intelsat, one other giant tv broadcast satellite tv for pc operator, ordered seven new C-band satellites as a part of the C-band clearing initiative.

SES launched the primary new C-band satellite tv for pc, SES 22, on a Falcon 9 rocket final June. Two extra C-band satellites, SES 20 and 21, launched in tandem on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket in October. SES ordered a spare satellite tv for pc, SES 23, that the corporate doesn’t plan to launch, pending a profitable deployment of SES 18 and 19 on the following SpaceX mission, an SES spokesperson mentioned.

The multi-satellite procurement by SES, together with launch companies and reconfiguration of floor programs, represents a $1.6 billion funding by the corporate.

The SES 18 and 19 satellites, based mostly on Northrop Grumman’s GEOStar satellite tv for pc design, ought to be prepared to start business service in June to offer TV, radio, and information relay companies throughout the USA. SES 18 will head for a place at 103 levels west longitude, the place it should substitute the C-band payload on the SES 3 satellite tv for pc launched in 2011. SES 19 will enter service at 135 levels west longitude, co-located with the SES 22 satellite tv for pc launched final yr.

SpaceX plans three extra Falcon 9 launches earlier than the top of the month — two from Cape Canaveral Area Power Station and one from Vandenberg Area Power Base.

The following SpaceX mission is scheduled to raise off from Cape Canaveral on Friday, March 24, with a Falcon 9 rocket hauling into orbit one other cluster of Starlink web satellites. One other Starlink mission is tentatively set for launch March 30 from Cape Canaveral.

The following Area launch from Vandenberg on the finish of March will carry the primary group of demonstration spacecraft for the Area Growth Company, a Protection Division group planning a future constellation of navy missile monitoring and information relay satellites.

The SES 18 and 19 communications satellites present process launch preparations inside a SpaceX payload processing facility at Cape Canaveral. Credit score: SpaceX

ROCKET: Falcon 9 (B1069.6)

PAYLOAD: SES 18 and 19 communications satellites

LAUNCH SITE: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Area Power Station, Florida

LAUNCH DATE: March 17, 2023

LAUNCH WINDOW: 7:38-8:16 p.m. EDT (2338-0016 GMT)

WEATHER FORECAST: 80% likelihood of acceptable climate

BOOSTER RECOVERY: “Simply Learn the Directions” drone ship


TARGET ORBIT: Sub-synchronous switch orbit


  • T+00:00: Liftoff
  • T+01:12: Most aerodynamic stress (Max-Q)
  • T+02:32: First stage major engine cutoff (MECO)
  • T+02:36: Stage separation
  • T+02:44: Second stage engine ignition
  • T+03:21: Fairing jettison
  • T+06:36: First stage entry burn ignition (three engines)
  • T+07:00: First stage entry burn ends
  • T+08:17: Second stage engine cutoff (SECO 1)
  • T+08:24: First stage touchdown burn ignition (one engine)
  • T+08:45: First stage touchdown
  • T+26:17: Second stage engine restart
  • T+27:04: Second stage engine cutoff (SECO 2)
  • T+32:15: SES 18 separation
  • T+37:25: SES 19 separation


  • 212th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket since 2010
  • 222nd launch of Falcon rocket household since 2006
  • sixth launch of Falcon 9 booster B1069
  • 181st Falcon 9 launch from Florida’s Area Coast
  • 117th Falcon 9 launch from pad 40
  • 172nd launch total from pad 40
  • 152nd flight of a reused Falcon 9 booster
  • ninth SpaceX launch for SES
  • 18th Falcon 9 launch of 2023
  • nineteenth launch by SpaceX in 2023
  • 14th orbital launch try based mostly out of Cape Canaveral in 2023

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