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.
SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 12:27 a.m. 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 headed northeast from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral to place the 1,543-pound (700-kilogram) Globalstar satellite into low Earth orbit.
The Falcon 9’s mission was 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 wrapped 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 began loading super-chilled, densified kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants into the Falcon 9 vehicle at T-minus 35 minutes,
Helium pressurant also flowed 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 were thermally conditioned for flight through a procedure known as “chilldown.” The Falcon 9’s guidance and range safety systems were also configured for launch at 12:27:36 a.m.
After liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket vectored its 1.7 million pounds of thrust — produced by nine Merlin engines — to steer northeast over the Atlantic Ocean.
The rocket exceeded the speed of sound in about one minute, then shut down its nine main engines two-and-a-half minutes after liftoff. The booster released from from the Falcon 9’s upper stage, then fired pulses from cold gas control thrusters and extended titanium grid fins to help guide the vehicle back into the atmosphere.
Two braking burns slowed 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 that flew early Sunday — tail number B1061 — made its ninth trip to space. 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’s flight Sunday occurred 25 days after returning from Transporter 5.
The Falcon first stage landed Sunday about the same time as the Falcon 9’s second stage engine cut off to complete its first orbital insertion burn. The upper stage coasted 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, occurred at T+plus 1 hour, 53 minutes, or at 2:20 a.m. EDT (0620 GMT).
In an unusual move for an established satellite operator, Globalstar did not acknowledge any details about the launch of its spare satellite in advance of Sunday’s mission. 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 was 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 featured a landing on SpaceX’s offshore recovery platform.
ROCKET: Falcon 9 (B1061.9)
PAYLOAD: Globalstar FM15
LAUNCH SITE: 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
BOOSTER RECOVERY: “Just Read the Instructions” drone ship east of Charleston, South Carolina
LAUNCH AZIMUTH: Northeast
TARGET ORBIT: Approximately 870 miles (1,400 kilometers)
- T+00:00:00: Liftoff
- T+00:01:12: Maximum aerodynamic pressure (Max-Q)
- T+00:02:31: First stage main engine cutoff (MECO)
- T+00:02:35: Stage 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
- 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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