Watch the countdown and launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket live at 11:50 PM EST (0450 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida with 40 OneWeb Internet satellites. Follow us Twitter.
SpaceX plans to lift off a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral at 11:50 p.m. EST on Monday (0450 GMT Tuesday) with 40 more Internet satellites for OneWeb. The Falcon 9 booster will return to Cape Canaveral for landing eight minutes later.
Bad weather delayed SpaceX’s launch of a different Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Monday night. That mission should be launched 35 minutes before the OneWeb mission from Cape Canaveral.
The weather forecast in Florida looks very favorable Monday night, with a more than 90% chance of good weather for the launch of the 40 OneWeb satellites.
The SpaceX launch team, working at the control center outside the gates of the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, will begin loading supercooled, dense kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants into the Falcon 9 vehicle in T-minus 35 minutes.
Helium pressure will also flow into the rocket during the last half hour of the countdown. In the final seven minutes before liftoff, the Falcon 9’s Merlin main engines are thermally stabilized for flight through a process known as “chill down.” The Falcon 9’s guidance and range protection systems will also be configured to launch.
After liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket will be powered by nine Merlin engines — putting out 1.7 million pounds of thrust. Launched from California, the missile will head southeast over the Pacific Ocean, fly west of Baja California, and aim for an orbit inclined 70 degrees to the equator. Departing from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, Falcon 9 will first head southeast, then turn south and fly parallel to Florida’s east coast, aiming for a polar orbit at an 87-degree inclination.
The launcher will exceed the speed of sound in about a minute, then shut down its nine main engines about two and a half minutes later.
The booster stage will separate from the Falcon 9’s upper stage, then fire pulses from the cold gas control thrusters and extend titanium grid fins to help propel the vehicle back into the atmosphere. The lighter weight of the 40 OneWeb satellites will allow the Falcon 9 booster to set aside enough fuel for the return to launch maneuver, which requires additional burning to return to Cape Canaveral.
A recovery ship is also in the Atlantic Ocean to recover the Falcon 9’s payload fairing after it is unloaded from the rocket.
The mission will target a 373-mile high orbit inclined 87 degrees to the equator. Falcon 9’s upper stage will launch 40 OneWeb satellites 59 minutes later. The satellites will use xenon-fueled propulsion systems to reach an altitude of 745 miles (1,200 kilometers) above Earth.
The OneWeb launch from Cape Canaveral will be the second of four planned SpaceX missions for the broadband Internet provider, which stopped launching on Russian Soyuz rockets last year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Within weeks, SpaceX and New Space India Ltd. will launch Falcon 9 and Indian GSLV Mk.3 rockets to build OneWeb’s satellite network. or signed new contracts with NSIL.
The 40 satellites aboard the Falcon 9 rocket will bring the total number of OneWeb spacecraft to 544. OneWeb needs 588 operational satellites to complete its first-generation broadband network, or nearly 650 spacecraft when counting spares.
Adding more relay stations to the constellation extends the reach of the network. OneWeb already provides Internet services to communities in Alaska, Canada and Northern Europe where there is no terrestrial fiber connection. 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 OneWeb’s reach.
OneWeb’s deal with SpaceX came as a surprise to many satellite industry watchers because OneWeb is an indirect competitor in the broadband market. SpaceX sells Starlink service directly to consumers, while OneWeb sells to enterprises, Internet service providers, maritime companies and airlines to provide connectivity to entire businesses or communities.
Rockets: Falcon 9 (B1076.2)
Payloads: 40 OneWeb satellites (OneWeb 16)
Start Sites: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida
Release Dates: Jan. 9, 2023
Release Time: 11:50:17 PM (0450:17 GMT)
Weather forecast: Greater than 90% chance of acceptable weather in Cape Canaveral
Booster Recovery: Landing Zone 1 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station
Initialize the azimuth: Southeast, then south from Cape Canaveral
Target Orbit: 373 miles (600 kilometers), 87 degree gradient
Start timeline for OWEB 16:
- T+00:00: Liftoff
- T+01:12: Maximum Aerodynamic Pressure (Max-Q)
- T+02:18: First Stage Main Engine Cut (MECO)
- T+02:21: Phase separation
- T+02:28: Secondary engine ignition
- T+02:34: First stage boost backburn ignition
- T+03:21: First stage boost back burn cutoff
- T+03:34: Fairing jettisoned
- T+06:20: First stage entry combustion ignition
- T+06:36: First stage inlet combustion cut
- T+07:27: First stage landing flare ignited
- T+07:56: First stage landing
- T+08:32: Secondary mechanical cut (SECO 1)
- T+55:14: Secondary Engine Restart (SES 2)
- T+55:17: Secondary mechanical cut (SECO 2)
- T+58:49: Separation of the first OneWeb satellites
- T+01:35:17: Separation of final OneWeb satellites
- 196th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket since 2010
- 205th launch of the Falcon rocket family since 2006
- 2nd release of Falcon 9 booster B1076
- The 168th SpaceX launch from Florida’s Space Coast
- 109th Falcon 9 launch from Pad 40
- 164th release overall from Bad 40
- 135th flight of a reused Falcon 9 booster
- 2nd SpaceX launch for OneWeb
- 16th overall release for OneWeb
- 2nd Falcon 9 launch of 2023
- SpaceX’s 2nd launch in 2023
- 2nd orbital launch from Cape Canaveral in 2023