SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is set for liftoff from Cape Canaveral on Tuesday, heading due east over the Atlantic Ocean to deliver the South Korean Anasis 2 military communications satellite into orbit around 32 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 launch window Monday opening at 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT) and closing at 8:55 p.m. EDT (0055 GMT).
Perched atop the rocket is the Anasis 2 communications satellite, a spacecraft manufactured by Airbus Defense and Space in Toulouse, France, and owned by the South Korean military.
After deployment from the upper stage of the Falcon 9 rocket in an elliptical transfer orbit, the Anasis 2 spacecraft will use its on-board hydrazine-fueled engine 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 E3000 satellite design, Anasis 2 “will provide secured communications over wide coverage,” Airbus said in a statement.
The Falcon 9 first stage booster set to loft the Anasis 2 payload has one previous flight to its credit. It launched May 30 with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on the first test flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft with people on-board.
The timeline below outlines the launch sequence for the Falcon 9 flight with Anasis 2.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is set for liftoff from Cape Canaveral on Tuesday carrying the U.S. Air Force’s next GPS 3-series navigation satellite destined for an orbit more than 12,000 miles above Earth.
The 229-foot-tall (70-meter) rocket is poised for launch from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 3:55:48 p.m. EDT (1955:48 GMT) Tuesday at the opening of a 15-minute launch window.
The Lockheed Martin-built GPS 3 SV03 satellite mounted atop the rocket is the third member of an upgraded generation of GPS navigation spacecraft, featuring higher-power signals that are more resilient to jamming, and additional broadcast frequencies to make the GPS network more interoperable with other navigation satellite fleets.
Unlike SpaceX’s previous launch of a GPS payload in 2018, the mission will fly a slightly different profile to reserve fuel for landing of the Falcon 9 booster. Read our mission preview story for more information.
The timeline below outlines the launch sequence for the Falcon 9 flight with the GPS 3 SV03 spacecraft.
Follow the key events of the Falcon 9 rocket’s ascent to orbit with 60 satellites for SpaceX’s Starlink broadband network.
The 229-foot-tall (70-meter) rocket is scheduled to lift off Wednesday at 9:25 p.m. EDT (0125 GMT Thursday) from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
The Falcon 9 will head northeast from Cape Canaveral over the Atlantic Ocean to place the 60 Starlink satellites into an elliptical orbit ranging between 132 miles (213 kilometers) to 226 miles (365 kilometers) above Earth with an inclination of 53 degrees to the equator. The satellites will use their ion thrusters to maneuver into their higher orbit for testing, before finally proceeding to an operational orbit at an altitude of approximately 341 miles (550 kilometers).
The Falcon 9’s first stage will target a landing on SpaceX’s drone ship “Just Read the Instructions” in the Atlantic Ocean nearly 400 miles (630 kilometers) northeast of Cape Canaveral.
The first stage booster launching Wednesday previously flew on four missions, landing on a SpaceX drone ship after each mission. The booster first flew from Cape Canaveral in September 2018 with a Telesat communications satellite, then launched again from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in January 2019 with 10 Iridium voice and data relay payloads.
Its third flight occurred in May 2019 on the first dedicated Falcon 9 launch for the Starlink program. Most recently, the booster launched Jan. 6 from Cape Canaveral and again landed on a SpaceX drone ship offshore.
If the booster lands after Wednesday night’s launch, it will mark the first time SpaceX has recovered a Falcon 9 first stage for a fifth time.
For Wednesday’s mission, SpaceX will attempt to catch both halves of the Falcon 9’s payload fairing using nets aboard the ocean-going ships “Ms. Tree” and “Ms. Chief” in the Atlantic Ocean. The attempt to catch the fairing will come around 45 minutes after liftoff.