SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is set for liftoff from Cape Canaveral on Thursday, heading due east over the Atlantic Ocean to deliver the Turkish Turksat 5B communications satellite into orbit around 33 minutes later.
The 229-foot-tall (70-meter) rocket is poised for launch from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida during a 90-minute launch window opening at 10:58 p.m. EST Saturday (0358 GMT Sunday).
Perched atop the rocket is the Turksat 5B communications satellite, a spacecraft manufactured by Airbus Defense and Space in Toulouse, France, and owned by the Turkish operator Turksat.
After deployment from the upper stage of the Falcon 9 rocket in an elliptical transfer orbit, the Turksat 5B spacecraft will use its on-board electric thrusters to boost itself into a circular geostationary orbit more than 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers) over the equator.
Based on Airbus’s Eurostar E3000EOR satellite design, Turksat will provide data relay and TV broadcast services for commercial customers and the Turkish government.
The Falcon 9 first stage booster set to loft the Turksat 5B payload has two previous flights to its credit. Each half of the Falcon 9’s reusable payload shroud has flown on one prior mission.
The timeline below outlines the launch sequence for the Falcon 9 flight with Turksat 5B.
Data source: SpaceX
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.
The Falcon 9’s nine Merlin 1D engines shut down.
T+0:02:37: 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 5B spacecraft into a preliminary parking orbit.
T+0:03:24: 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+0:06:27: 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+0:08:06: SECO 1
The second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket shuts down after reaching a preliminary low-altitude orbit. The upper stage and Turksat begin a coast phase scheduled to last nearly 19 minutes before the second stage Merlin vacuum engine reignites.
T+0:08:42: 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+0:26:43: Second Ignition of Second Stage
The Falcon 9’s second stage Merlin engine restarts to propel the Turksat 5B communications satellite into an elliptical transfer orbit.
T+0:27:44: SECO 2
The Merlin engine shuts down after a short burn to put the Turksat 5B satellite in the proper elliptical orbit for deployment.
T+0:32:45: Turksat 5B Separation
The Turksat 5B satellite separates from the Falcon 9 rocket into an elliptical transfer orbit, on the way to a perch in geostationary orbit.