SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will go from Cape Canaveral to low Earth orbit in less than 10 minutes Thursday with a Dragon capsule heading for the International Space Station carrying more than 7,300 pounds of supplies and experiments.
Liftoff is set for 1:29 p.m. EDT (1729 GMT) Thursday from pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida
It will be the 120th flight of a Falcon 9 rocket, and SpaceX’s 17th launch of the year. Working under contract to NASA, Saturday’s launch will be the 22nd of least 29 SpaceX resupply missions to depart for the space station under two separate cargo transportation contracts.
The resupply mission, known as CRS-22 or SpaceX-22, will be the second flight of SpaceX’s new-generation Dragon cargo spacecraft, an automated, unpiloted capsule based on the new human-rated Crew Dragon spacecraft.
The illustrated timeline below outlines the launch sequence for the Falcon 9 flight with the Dragon spacecraft.
Three ignitions of the first stage engines after separation will steer the booster toward a landing on SpaceX’s drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” nearly 200 miles (about 300 kilometers) northeast of Florida’s Space Coast. Here are key times for the landing maneuvers:
- T+plus 2 minutes, 43 seconds: First stage boost-back burn begins
- T+plus 5 minutes, 52 seconds: First stage entry burn begins
- T+plus 7 minutes, 41 seconds: First stage landing
The first two burns will be performed using three of the Falcon 9’s nine Merlin first stage engines. The final landing burn will occur using just the center engine.
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+0:01:12: Max Q
T+0:02:30: Stage 1 Separation
T+0:02:37: Second Stage Ignition
The second stage Merlin 1D vacuum engine ignites for an approximately six-minute burn to put the Dragon spacecraft into orbit.
The second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket shuts down after reaching a elliptical target orbit at an inclination of 51.6 degrees. The second stage will later reignite for a de-orbit burn, falling back into the atmosphere for a destructive re-entry.
T+0:11:52: Dragon Separation
The Dragon spacecraft separates from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage.
T+0:12:38: Dragon Nose Cone Opens
The nose cone on the front end of the Cargo Dragon capsule opens, exposing the craft’s docking port.
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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.
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