SpaceX ready to launch Italian radar remote sensing satellite – Spaceflight Now
SpaceX plans to launch an Italian Earth observation satellite with radar vision Thursday night from Cape Canaveral on a twilight flight that could dazzle onlookers with the reusable Falcon 9 booster’s rise and fall over Florida’s spaceport.
The mission is scheduled to start from Pad 40 of Space Force Station Cape Canaveral at 6:11 p.m. EST (2311 GMT) Thursday. The launch will mark the fifth space mission to leave Florida’s space coast this month, continuing a busy start into 2022.
Nine engines will propel the 229-foot-tall (70-meter) rocket south-southeast over the Atlantic Ocean with 1.7 million pounds of thrust.
If all goes as planned, the second stage of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will deploy the Italian radar satellite – named COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation Flight Model 2 – into an orbit near its planned operating altitude of 384 miles (619 kilometers). .
The Falcon 9 first stage, refurbished from two previous flights as a side booster on SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, will shut down less than two and a half minutes after liftoff. Cold gas thrusters will flip the booster stage to fly tail-first, and three of the rocket’s Merlin engines will re-ignite to steer the first stage toward Cape Canaveral.
The booster, itself 15 stories tall, will target a propellant vertical landing on Landing Zone 1, a concrete site about 9 kilometers south of the Complex 40 launch pad.
SpaceX tested the Falcon 9 booster on pad 40 on Saturday, then brought the rocket back to a nearby hangar to meet the COSMO-SkyMed radar satellite, weighing more than 4,800 pounds, or about 2.2 metric tons, with a full propellant charge for in-orbit maneuvers.
SpaceX was scheduled to return the rocket to pad 40 on Wednesday, then raise the Falcon 9 upright for final countdown preparations.
There’s a 60% chance the weather will be favorable for launch Thursday night, according to the US Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron. The main weather issues are ground winds and cumulus clouds, which could contribute to rocket-triggered lightning as the Falcon 9 climbs through the atmosphere.
A weather disturbance brought rainy weather to central Florida for much of the week.
“As moisture deep in the atmosphere is gradually wicked away tonight into tomorrow, the proximity of this system coupled with a robust overland flow will still support scattered low top showers moving coastward on Thursday,” Wednesday wrote. the weather forecast team. “Thus, the primary weather concerns for launch day are persistent cumulus clouds and showers embedded in this low level overland flow as well as windy conditions during liftoff.”
There is also a moderate threat that winds or rough seas could exceed weather constraints for the Falcon 9’s return to Cape Canaveral.
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