A Falcon 9 rocket is poised to launch two Intelsat telecommunications satellites – Spaceflight Now

Live streaming of the countdown and launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The Falcon 9 rocket will launch Intelsat’s Galaxy 33 and Galaxy 34 geostationary communications satellites. Follow us Twitter.

SFN Live

A pair of television broadcast satellites for Intelsat are buttoned up for launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 19:20 (2320 GMT) from Cape Canaveral, the third launch in three days from the Florida spaceport.

SpaceX has a 67-minute launch window for Thursday night, and the launch meteorologist is predicting more than 90% favorable weather conditions for the flight. The launch window opens a few minutes after sunset, and with clear skies expected, viewers could see dazzling views of the Falcon 9’s climb into space at dusk.

Thursday night’s launch will be the Falcon 9’s third flight in less than a day and a half, following the launch of the Falcon 9 from Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday afternoon EDT (1600 GMT). sent the crew to the International Space Station. Then SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at 7:10 p.m. (4:10 p.m. PDT; 2310 GMT) on Wednesday with 52 Starlink internet satellites, just seven hours after the astronaut launch from Florida.

Now, a few miles south of Kennedy Space Center, SpaceX workers are preparing a Falcon 9 rocket for launch from pad 40 on a commercial flight for Intelsat.

SpaceX’s Thursday mission for Intelsat will also be the third space launch from Florida’s Space Coast in three days. An Atlas 5 rocket from United Launch Alliance began a series of launches from Cape Canaveral on Tuesday on a commercial satellite delivery mission for SES.

Galaxy 33 and 34 satellites are embarking on 15-year missions to transmit C-band video and television programming for media networks and cable providers in North America. They will replace two aging Intelsat satellites, Galaxy 12 and Galaxy 15, which have been in space since 2003 and 2005.

SpaceX ground crews rolled the Falcon 9 rocket and its commercial satellite payload onto Pad 40 earlier this week and lifted it vertically on the Pad 40 launch pad for final checks on Thursday. The 229-foot-tall (70-meter) launcher will be filled with one million pounds of kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants in the final 35 minutes of the countdown.

After the teams verify that the technical and weather parameters are “green” for launch, the nine Merlin 1D main engines on the first stage booster will be ignited using an ignition fluid called triethylaluminum/triethylborane, or TEA-TEB. Once the engines are in full throttle, the hydraulic clamps will open to release the Falcon 9 to climb into space.

Nine main engines will launch the Falcon 9 and Intelsat’s Galaxy 33 and Galaxy 34 communications satellites into the upper atmosphere, producing 1.7 million pounds of thrust for about two and a half minutes. Then the booster stage — tail number B1060 in SpaceX’s fleet — will shut down and separate from the Falcon 9’s upper stage.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lands on pad 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station before launching Galaxy 33 and 34 satellites. Credit: Stephen Clark / Spaceflight Now

Before restarting the engines for booster, brake burn and final descent, the drone will extend its titanium grid wings and pulsed cold gas thrusters to target a vertical descent to “A”. Lack of Gravitas” parked about 400 miles (about 640 kilometers) east of Cape Canaveral.

A successful landing will mark the completion of the booster’s 14th flight into space and tie another Falcon 9 booster as the leader of the SpaceX fleet.

SpaceX has already successfully completed a mission with a booster on its 14th flight into space, but this launch carried a batch of the company’s own Starlink internet satellites. Thursday night’s mission for Intelsat will be the first time SpaceX has launched a booster with more than 10 flights on a customer-specific flight.

“It’s the same price whether you’re first or 14th,” said Jean-Luc Froeliger, Intelsat’s senior vice president for space systems.

In 2018, when the trade magazine Aviation Week & Space debuted the Block 5 booster, the latest iteration of the Falcon 9, SpaceX has adapted reusable Falcon 9 boosters for at least 15 missions, more than the company’s stated goal of 10 missions. Technology reported in June.

The magazine reported that SpaceX put the booster components through a vibration test to four times the fatigue life of 15 flights, giving engineers confidence that the rockets would continue to fly successfully.

“They’re very impressive,” Froeliger, a longtime satellite industry executive, said of SpaceX. “They’ve found a model where their reusable first stage and reusable curtains allow them to launch at a very fast rate, they have two launch complexes here, and Vandenberg as well. So, yes, they do a lot of work.”

Froeliger said SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launcher is the “workhorse of the industry” after SpaceX pioneered the recovery and reuse of commercial rockets. The company has sold 45 times so far this year, far outstripping its competitors in the sales business.

This map depicts the predicted ground path for the Falcon 9 rocket on the SES 22 mission, the locations of pad 40 and the unmanned spacecraft labeled “Gravity Deficiency”. Credit: Spaceflight Now

On Thursday’s mission, the Falcon 9 rocket will fire its upper stage engine twice to launch the Galaxy 33 and 34 spacecraft into an elliptical “sub-synchronous” transfer orbit with apogee, or the high point just short of the last 22,000 miles of the satellites. -high operational altitude in geostationary orbit.

A conventional deployment orbit for a geostationary mission allows the Falcon 9 rocket to lift both satellites in a single mission, giving the Falcon 9’s reusable first-stage booster enough spare fuel to land on the drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

Galaxy 33 and 34 will separate from the Falcon 9 rocket one at a time at approximately 33 minutes 38 minutes into the mission.

“They are bolted on top of each other and placed inside the curtain,” Froeliger said. “At the time of separation, the upper satellite actually separates from the lower satellite first. Thus, Galaxy 33 will detach from the lower satellite by setting off a pyrotechnic device to release the clamp band that holds the two satellites together. “After Galaxy 33 is separated, Galaxy 34 is separated from the rocket carrier.”

According to Northrop Grumman, which manufactured the Galaxy 33 and 34, the combined weight of the pair of satellites is about 16,200 pounds (7,350 kilograms).

The spacecraft will use its own hydrazine-powered engines to raise its orbits to geostationary altitude. Froeliger said the orbit raising maneuvers will take about 10-11 days.

The two satellites are similar but not identical. Galaxy 33 carries a C-band communications payload, plus steerable Ka-band and Ku-band beams. Galaxy 34 is a dedicated C-band relay satellite for video relay services.

Galaxy 33 will replace the Galaxy 15 communications satellite in operation at 133 degrees west longitude. Intelsat lost control of Galaxy 15 after it was damaged during a geomagnetic storm in August, the company said. Before Intelsat lost contact with the spacecraft, Galaxy 15 was already scheduled to be replaced.

Intelsat plans to deploy the Galaxy 34 satellite at 129 degrees west longitude, where it will replace the Galaxy 12.

The Galaxy 33 and 34 satellites are the first two of seven Intelsat satellites planned to fill the company’s fleet of C-band television broadcast satellites, replacing C-band capacity that the Federal Communications Commission has mandated transition to 5G cellular network services. The remaining C-band replacement satellites will be launched on a mix of Falcon 9 and Ariane 5 rockets.

Galaxy 33 and Galaxy 34 (top and bottom) satellites are assembled in launch configuration at SpaceX’s payload processing facility at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Credit: Intelsat

ROCKET: Falcon 9 (B1060.14)

DOWNLOADING: Galaxy 33 and 34 communication satellites

START YOUR PAGE: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida

START DATE: October 6, 2022

START WINDOW: 7:07 a.m. to 8:14 p.m. EDT (2307-0014 GMT)

WEATHER FORECAST: Over 90% chance of fair weather

ENHANCED RECOVERY: “Lack of Gravita” drone


TARGET ORBIT: Sub-synchronous transfer orbit


  • T+00:00: Liftoff
  • T+01:12: Maximum aerodynamic pressure (Max-Q)
  • T+02:33: First stage main engine cutoff (MECO)
  • T+02:37: Phase separation
  • T+02:41: Second stage engine ignition
  • T+03:25: Fairing jump
  • T+06:27: First stage entry ignition (three engines)
  • T+06:48: First stage entry burn ends
  • T+08:15: Second stage engine cut (DRY 1)
  • T+08:18: First stage landing ignition (one engine)
  • T+08:40: First stage landing
  • T+26:19: Second stage engine restart
  • T+27:06: Second stage engine shutdown (SECO 2)
  • T+32:57: Galaxy 33 separation
  • T+38:07: Galaxy 34 separation


  • 180th Falcon 9 launch since 2010
  • 188th launch of the Falcon missile family since 2006
  • 14th release of Falcon 9 booster B1060
  • The 154th Falcon 9 launch from Florida’s Space Coast
  • The 99th Falcon 9 launch from pad 40
  • 154th release in total from pad 40
  • 121st flight of a reused Falcon 9 booster
  • SpaceX’s second launch for Intelsat
  • 46th Falcon 9 launch in 2022
  • 46th launch by SpaceX in 2022
  • 44th orbital launch attempt from Cape Canaveral in 2022

e-mail Author.

Follow Stephen Clarke on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

About the author


Leave a Comment