SpaceX launches Globalstar satellite from Florida – Spaceflight Now

Live coverage of the countdown and launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida with the Globalstar FM15 voice and data relay satellite. Follow us on Twitter.

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SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 12:27 am EDT (0427 GMT) Sunday with the Globalstar FM15 satellite, a spare spacecraft for Globalstar’s commercial voice and data relay constellation.

The 229-foot-tall Falcon 9 rocket will head northeast from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral to place the 1,543-pound (700-kilogram) Globalstar satellite into low Earth orbit, according to airspace warning notices released by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Falcon 9’s mission will be longer than usual, with three burns by the rocket’s upper stage engine before deploying the Globalstar FM15 spacecraft about an hour and 53 minutes after liftoff.

The launch wraps up a busy weekend for SpaceX, following back-to-back launches Friday and Saturday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Vandenberg Space Force Base in California with 53 more Starlink internet satellites and the German military’s SARah 1 radar reconnaissance satellite.

Stationed inside a launch control center a few miles south of the pad, SpaceX’s launch team will begin loading super-chilled, densified kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants into the Falcon 9 vehicle at T-minus 35 minutes,

Helium pressurant will also flow into the rocket in the last half-hour of the countdown. In the final seven minutes before liftoff, the Falcon 9’s Merlin main engines will be thermally conditioned for flight through a procedure known as “chilldown.” The Falcon 9’s guidance and range safety systems will also be configured for launch at 12:27:36 am

After liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket will vector its 1.7 million pounds of thrust — produced by nine Merlin engines — to steer northeast over the Atlantic Ocean.

The rocket will exceed the speed of sound in about one minute, then shut down its nine main engines two-and-a-half minutes after liftoff. The booster will release from from the Falcon 9’s upper stage, then fire pulses from cold gas control thrusters and extend titanium grid fins to help guide the vehicle back into the atmosphere.

Two braking burns will slow the rocket for landing on the drone ship “Just Read the Instructions” around 400 miles (650 kilometers) downrange approximately 10 minutes after liftoff.

SpaceX’s patch for the Globalstar FM15 mission. Credit: SpaceX

The booster stage flying early Sunday—tail number B1061—will head to space for the ninth time. It debuted with the launch of two NASA crew missions to the International Space Station in November 2020 and April 2021, then launched SiriusXM’s SXM 8 radio broadcasting satellite last June and a space station cargo missions last August.

More recently, the booster stage launched NASA’s IXPE X-ray astronomy satellite in December, a Starlink mission in February, and SpaceX’s Transporter 4 and Transporter 5 small satellite rideshare mission on April 1 and May 25. The rocket will be going for its next mission 25 days after returning from Transporter 5.

Landing of the first stage on Friday’s mission will occur about the same time as the Falcon 9’s second stage engine cuts off to complete its first orbital insertion burn. The upper stage will coast halfway around the world before reigniting for about four seconds T+plus 64 minutes, then for around eight seconds at T+plus 107 minutes.

Deployment of the Globalstar FM15 satellite, built more than a decade ago by Thales Alenia Space, is expected at T+plus 1 hour, 53 minutes, or around 2:20 am EDT (0620 GMT), assuming an on-time launch, according to SpaceX’s mission timeline.

In an unusual move for an established satellite operator, Globalstar has not acknowledged any details about the launch of its spare satellite Sunday. Globalstar released a statement in a quarterly financial report last month that said it planned to launch the backup spacecraft in the “near future.” At the time, the company did not identify the launcher for the spare satellite.

The launch Sunday will be the first for a Globalstar satellite since 2013, and adds capacity for the company’s commercial network providing voice and data connectivity for satellite phones, asset tracking, and internet-of-things applications.

Globalstar operates a fleet of dozens of communications satellites in low Earth orbit. The company did not respond to multiple requests for details on the upcoming launch.

The company launched 60 first-generation satellites, built by Space Systems/Loral, on Delta 2 and Soyuz rockets from 1998 through 2007. Globalstar added 24 second-generation satellites, manufactured by Thales Alenia Space, on four Soyuz rocket missions from 2010 through 2013 .

SpaceX did not mention any payloads that could be riding to orbit with the Globalstar FM15 satellite on Sunday’s mission. The relatively light weight of the Globalstar satellite would typically leave enough propellant reserve on the Falcon 9’s booster to return to landing, but Sunday’s mission will feature a landing on SpaceX’s offshore recovery platform.

ROCKETS: Falcon 9 (B1061.9)

PAYLOAD: Globalstar FM15

WEBSITE LAUNCH: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida

LAUNCH DATE: June 19, 2022

LAUNCH TIME: 12:27:36 a.m. EDT (0427:36 GMT)

WEATHER FORECAST: 70% chance of acceptable weather; Low risk of upper level winds; Low risk of unfavorable conditions for booster recovery

RECOVERY BOOSTER: “Just Read the Instructions” drone ship east of Charleston, South Carolina

LAUNCH AZIMUTH: Nord Est

TARGET ORBIT: Approximately 870 miles (1,400 kilometers)

LAUNCH TIMELINE:

  • T+00:00:00: Lift off
  • T+00:01:12: Maximum aerodynamic pressure (Max-Q)
  • T+00:02:31: First stage main engine cutoff (MECO)
  • T+00:02:35: Internship separation
  • T+00:02:43: Second stage engine ignition (SES 1)
  • T+00:02:54: Fairing jettison
  • T+00:08:10: First stage entry burn ignition (three engines)
  • T+00:08:36: First stage entry burn cutoff
  • T+00:09:36: First stage landing burn ignition (one engine)
  • T+00:09:58: Second stage engine cutoff (SECO 1)
  • T+00:10:00: First stage landing
  • T+01:04:32: Second stage engine ignition (SES 2)
  • T+01:04:36: Second stage engine cutoff (SECO 2)
  • T+01:47:12: Second stage engine ignition (SES 3)
  • T+01:47:20: Second stage engine cutoff (SECO 3)
  • T+01:53:21: Globalstar FM15 separation

MISSION STATS:

  • 160th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket since 2010
  • 168th launch of Falcon rocket family since 2006
  • 9th launch of Falcon 9 booster B1061
  • 139th Falcon 9 launch from Florida’s Space Coast
  • 89th Falcon 9 launch from pad 40
  • 144th launch overall from pad 40
  • 102nd flight of a reused Falcon 9 booster
  • 1st SpaceX launch for Globalstar
  • 82nd Thales Alenia Space-built satellite launched by SpaceX
  • 26th Falcon 9 launch of 2022
  • 26th launch by SpaceX in 2022
  • 26th orbital launch attempt based out of Cape Canaveral in 2022

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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