Watch our live coverage of the countdown and launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 11:50 p.m. EST (0450 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, with 40 internet satellites from OneWeb. Follow us Twitter.
SpaceX is counting down to the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral at 11:50 p.m. EST (0450 GMT Tuesday) with 40 internet satellites for OneWeb. The Falcon 9 booster will return to Cape Canaveral for landing eight minutes later.
SpaceX delayed the launch of a different Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California Monday night due to inclement weather. This mission was supposed to start just 35 minutes before OneWeb’s mission from Cape Canaveral.
The weather forecast for Florida is more favorable Monday night, with a greater than 90% chance of good weather for 40 OneWeb satellite launches.
The SpaceX launch team, operating in a control center outside the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station gate, will begin loading super-cold condensed kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants into the Falcon 9 vehicle in T-minus 35 minutes.
Helium pressure will also flow into the rocket in the last half hour of the countdown. In the final seven minutes before liftoff, Merlin’s Falcon 9 main engines will be thermally conditioned for flight through a procedure known as a “chilldown”. The Falcon 9’s guidance and field safety systems will also be configured for launch.
After liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket will channel 1.7 million pounds of thrust—produced by nine Merlin engines—to head downward. The launch will head from California to the southeast over the Pacific Ocean, heading west of Baja California to target an orbit inclined 70 degrees to the equator. Departing from Platform 40 at Cape Canaveral, Falcon 9 will initially head southeast, then turn south to fly parallel to the east coast of Florida, aiming for a polar orbit at an inclination of 87 degrees.
The launcher will exceed the speed of sound in about one minute, then shut down its nine main engines about two and a half minutes after liftoff.
The booster stage will separate from the Falcon 9’s upper stage, then pulses from cool-gas control thrusters will fire and extend titanium grille fins to help guide the vehicle back into the atmosphere. The lighter weight of OneWeb’s 40 satellites will allow the Falcon 9 booster to allocate enough fuel to return to launch site maneuvering, which would require an additional burn to return to Cape Canaveral.
There is also a salvage ship on station in the Atlantic Ocean to retrieve the Falcon 9 payload after rocket disposal.
The mission will target an orbit 373 miles high and inclined 87 degrees to the equator. The Falcon 9 upper stage will launch 40 OneWeb satellites starting about 59 minutes after liftoff. The satellites will use xenon-fueled propulsion systems to reach their operating altitude of 745 miles (1,200 kilometers) above Earth.
OneWeb’s launch from Cape Canaveral will be the second of four SpaceX missions planned for the broadband internet provider, which halted launches on Russian Soyuz rockets last year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Within weeks, OneWeb signed new contracts with SpaceX and New Space India Ltd. , or NSIL, to launch the Falcon 9 and Indian GSLV Mk.3 rockets to finish building the company’s satellite network.
40 satellites aboard a Falcon 9 rocket would bring the total number of OneWeb spacecraft launched to 544. OneWeb needs 588 operational satellites to complete its first-generation broadband network, or a total of 650 spacecraft when spare parts are counted.
Adding more relay stations to the constellation expands the reach of the network. OneWeb already provides Internet services to communities in Alaska, Canada, and Northern Europe where a terrestrial fiber connection is not available. The 40 satellites launched Monday night will help put southern Europe, the United States, North Africa, the Middle East, Japan, and parts of Australia and India within reach of OneWeb.
OneWeb’s contract with SpaceX came as a surprise to many satellite industry watchers because OneWeb is an indirect competitor in the broadband market. SpaceX sells Starlink directly to consumers, while OneWeb sells to enterprises, ISPs, maritime companies and airlines to provide connectivity to entire businesses or communities.
Missiles: Falcon 9 (B1076.2)
Payloads: 40 OneWeb satellites (OneWeb 16)
Launch sites: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Station, Florida
Opening dates: January 9, 2023
launch time: 11:50:17 PM (0450:17 GMT)
weather forecast: More than 90% chance of acceptable weather at Cape Canaveral
Recovery from boost: Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Space Station
AZIMUTH LAUNCH: Southeast, then south from Cape Canaveral
target orbit: 373 miles (600 km), inclination 87 degrees
ONEWEB 16 LAUNCH TIMELINE:
- T+00:00: take off
- T+01:12: Max Air Pressure (Max-Q)
- T+02:18: First Engine Main Cut Off (MECO) Stage
- T+02:21: Phase separation
- T+02:28: Second stage engine ignition
- T+02:34: Phase 1 boosts back burn ignition
- T+03:21: The first stage increases the posterior burn cut
- T+03:34: Quiet out
- T+06:20: First stage entry burn ignition
- T+06:36: First stage entry afterburner cut off
- T+07:27: First stage burner ignited
- T+07:56: First stage landing
- T+08:32: Second stage engine cut off (SECO 1)
- T+55:14: Second stage engine restart (SES 2)
- T+55:17: Second Stage Engine Cut Off (SECO 2)
- T+58:49: Separation of the first OneWeb satellites
- T+01:35:17: Another OneWeb satellite chapter
- The 196th launch of the Falcon 9 since 2010
- The 205th launch of the Falcon family since 2006
- Second launch of Falcon 9 Booster B1076
- SpaceX launch 168th from the Florida Space Coast
- 109 Falcon 9 launch from platform 40
- 164th launch overall from the 40 board
- Flight 135 of the repurposed Falcon 9 booster
- SpaceX’s second launch of OneWeb
- Sixteenth launch of OneWeb
- The second Falcon 9 launch in 2023
- The second launch by SpaceX in 2023
- Second orbital launch from Cape Canaveral in 2023
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