Watch our coverage of the countdown and launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 2:13 p.m. EST (1913 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, with 40 OneWeb internet satellites. Follow us onTwitter.
SpaceX is set to launch a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station Thursday with 40 more internet satellites for rival OneWeb, followed eight minutes later by the landing of the rocket’s first stage booster back at the Florida spaceport.
The mission, SpaceX’s 16th flight of the year overall, is the third and final planned dedicated Falcon 9 launch for OneWeb, which switched launch providers from Russia’s Soyuz rocket to SpaceX and Indian launchers last year after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. OneWeb has another reservation with SpaceX for a rideshare mission with Iridium later this year.
With the 40 spacecraft on Thursday’s mission, OneWeb will have launched 584 satellites to date on 17 rockets — 13 Soyuz flights, three SpaceX Falcon 9s, and one Indian GSLV Mk.3. OneWeb has reported two failed satellites in its constellation, meaning the launch Thursday will bring the tally of active OneWeb spacecraft to 582.
OneWeb also has one more launch on an Indian GSLV Mk.3 rocket scheduled later this month with 36 more internet satellites. That launch will put OneWeb over the 588-satellite threshold needed for global internet coverage. OneWeb plans to launch nearly 650 satellites in total for its first-generation network, including spares.
SpaceX’s 229-foot-tall (70-meter) Falcon 9 rocket is set to take off from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 2:13:28 p.m. EST (1913:28 GMT). There is a 95% chance of favorable weather for liftoff Thursday.
The SpaceX launch team working in a control center just outside the gate of Cape Canaveral Space Force Station will begin loading super-chilled, densified kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants into the Falcon 9 vehicle at T-minus 35 minutes.
Helium pressurant will also flow 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 will be thermally conditioned for flight through a procedure known as “chilldown.”The Falcon 9’s guidance and range safety systems will also be configured for launch.
After liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket will vector 1.7 million pounds of thrust from its main engines to steer downrange toward the southeast over the Atlantic Ocean, then the launcher will turn south to fly parallel to Florida’s east coast, aiming for a polar orbit at an inclination of 87 degrees.
The launcher will surpass the speed of sound in about one minute, then shut down its nine main engines nearly two-and-a-half minutes after liftoff.
The booster stage will separate from the Falcon 9’s upper stage, then fire pulses from cold gas control thrusters and extend titanium grid fins to help steer the vehicle back into the atmosphere.The lighter weight of the 40 OneWeb satellites — each about the size of a mini-refrigerator — will allow the Falcon 9 booster to set aside enough fuel to return to the launch site, which requires an additional engine burn compared to rocket landings on SpaceX’s ocean-going drone ships.
Landing of the first stage on Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral is expected about eight minutes into the mission. The returning booster will return to the launch base with a pair of sonic booms as it slows for landing. The first stage, designated B1062, will complete its 13th flight to space on Thursday’s mission.
File photo of 40 OneWeb satellites mounted on a dispenser before encapsulation inside a SpaceX payload fairing on a previous mission. Credit: OneWeb
The Falcon 9’s upper stage will fire its single engine two times to reach a near-circular polar orbit close to the mission’s target altitude of 373 miles (600 kilometers).The upper stage will release the 40 OneWeb satellites beginning about 59 minutes after liftoff, and SpaceX confirmed all the spacecraft had separated about 1 hour and 35 minutes into the flight.
The OneWeb satellites, built in a factory just outside the gates of Kennedy Space Center, will use xenon-fueled propulsion systems to reach their operating altitude 745 miles (1,200 kilometers) above Earth. The orbit-raising will take several months before the satellites are ready to begin commercial broadband service. London-based OneWeb has a joint venture with Airbus to build the satellites.
Adding more relay stations to the constellation extends the network’s reach. OneWeb already provides internet services to communities in Alaska, Canada, and and Northern Europe where terrestrial fiber connectivity is unavailable.
OneWeb began launching its satellites in February 2019. The first-generation constellation is spread into 12 orbital planes that fly on north-south routes over the poles, enabling worldwide network coverage.
Arianespace, the French launch service provider, was on the hook with OneWeb for six more Soyuz launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, including a launch that was set to take off last March. Russian officials suspended launch preparations for a Soyuz/OneWeb mission last March after Western governments levied sanctions on Russia in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Thirty-six OneWeb spacecraft were left stranded at the Russian-controlled Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan after the launch was grounded.Officials from OneWeb do not expect to regain custody of the satellites.
Massimiliano Ladovaz, OneWeb’s chief technology officer, said last year OneWeb manufactured new satellites to replace the spacecraft impounded by Russia.
Less than a month after Soyuz launches were suspended last year, OneWeb announced an agreement with SpaceX to launch some of its remaining satellites. OneWeb finalized a similar agreement with New Space India Limited, the commercial arm of India’s space agency, for launches on Indian rockets.
The contract with SpaceX was surprising to many satellite industry watchers because OneWeb is an indirect competitor in broadband market. SpaceX sells Starlink service directly to consumers, while OneWeb sells to enterprises and internet service providers to provide connectivity for entire businesses or communities.
SpaceX has launched two missions for OneWeb, successfully delivering 80 OneWeb satellites into orbit on two Falcon 9 rockets Dec. 8 and Jan. 9. India’s GSLV Mk.3 rocket launched 36 OneWeb satellites Oct. 22.
ROCKETS:Falcon 9 (B1062.13)
PAYLOADS: 40 OneWeb satellites (OneWeb 17)
LAUNCH SITES: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida
LAUNCH DATES: March 9,2023
LAUNCH TIME:2:13:28 p.m. EST (1913:28 GMT)
WEATHER FORECAST:95% chanceof acceptable weather at Cape Canaveral
BOOSTER RECOVERY: Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station
LAUNCH AZIMUTH:Southeast, then south from Cape Canaveral
TARGET ORBIT: 373 miles (600 kilometers), 87 degrees inclination
LAUNCH TIMELINE FOR ONEWEB 16:
T+00:00: LiftoffT+01:12: Maximum aerodynamic pressure (Max-Q)T+02:17: First stage main engine cutoff (MECO)T+02:20: Stage separationT+02:28: Second stage engine ignitionT+02:34: First stage boost back burn ignitionT+03:22: First stage boost back burn cutoffT+03:33: Fairing jettisonT+06:10: First stage entry burn ignitionT+06:28: First stage entry burn cutoffT+07:23: First stage landing burn ignitionT+07:50: First stage landingT+08:34: Second stage engine cutoff (SECO 1)T+55:17: Second stage engine restart (SES 2)T+55:20: Second stage engine cutoff (SECO 2)T+58:50: Separation of first OneWeb satellitesT+01:35:18: Separation of final OneWeb satellites
209th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket since 2010219th launch of Falcon rocket family since 200613th launch of Falcon 9 booster B1062179th SpaceX launch from Florida’s Space Coast116th Falcon 9 launch from pad 40171st launch overall from pad 40149th flight of a reused Falcon 9 booster3rd SpaceX launch for OneWeb17th overall launch for OneWeb15th Falcon 9 launch of 202316th launch by SpaceX in 202312th orbital launch from Cape Canaveral in 2023
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers the closest public viewing of launches, as well as launch commentary, bleacher seating and access to exhibits and attractions. Launch viewing tickets are available for some — but not all — launches, depending on date and time of the launch.How do I watch the rocket launch from Cape Canaveral? ›
Available in addition to daily admission, the LC-39 Observation Gantry is the closest viewing area to the launch pads on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Witness liftoff of the rocket from the launch pad. Shaded viewing from the gantry and outdoor bleacher seating make this the premium launch viewing area.Where is the best place to watch the SpaceX launch? ›
Whether you choose to watch the launch from Jetty Park, Playalinda Beach, Titusville, the Cocoa Beach Pier, the Exploration Tower, or the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, you are sure to have a fantastic view of the rocket as it takes off.Can you see the launch pad at Cape Canaveral? ›
The Visitor Complex itself is 6.7 miles from the pad but offers no view of the pad itself (obscured by the tree line). Port Canaveral's Route 528 (11.6 miles) is the closest and best spot otherwise, and the best place to go for off-hours launches. The Port area is also best if the launch includes a first-stage landing.Can you see Cape Canaveral launch from Orlando? ›
Cape Canaveral is just 50 short miles away from our hometown and being able to watch the rockets as they blast into space is an experience you will never forget! This guide to the best ways to view the rocket launches will ensure your fantastic Florida furlough is a stellar one!Can you watch a launch from NASA? ›
The Launch Viewing Area at the Visitor Center is located 7 miles from the launch range and is one of the only public sites with a clear view of the launch pads! Access to the Launch Viewing Area at the Wallops Visitor Center is free, but space is limited and available on a first come first served basis.How far away can you see a rocket launch? ›
The line of sight ranges from 385 miles where the rocket first appears above the horizon to over 600 miles where the second stage disappears below the horizon.What channel can I watch the NASA rocket launch? ›
Launch: Viewing the Launch on NASA TV
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission launch was carried live on NASA TV.
For some launches, you can purchase a Premium Launch Viewing and Admission Package which lets you watch a launch from either the LC-39 Observation Gantry area or very occasionally from the NASA Causeway. LC-39 Observation Gantry tickets generally cost around $49 plus tax and the NASA Causeway, $39 plus tax.Is Playalinda Beach closed for launches? ›
Payalinda Beach is closed for some launches.
Titusville is where you'll find Space View Park. It's free, which means you'll have more cash in your pocket to explore!Where does SpaceX launch from Cape Canaveral? ›
ET, the Falcon 9 rocket left Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station to send more than 20 Starlink satellites into orbit, stated SpaceX.Where is the best place in Port Canaveral to watch the rocket launch? ›
Located on the shores of the Banana River in Merritt Island, adjacent to Port Canaveral, Kelly Park offers a great view of rocket launches. The park's amenities include restrooms, playground, and picnic facilities. Take in the launch from the 7th floor observation deck.How many active launch pads does Cape Canaveral have? ›
There are currently four active launch complexes on the Eastern Range: Launch Complex 37 for United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta rockets; Launch Complex 39 which is owned by NASA and comprised of three launch pads; Launch Complex 40 reserved for SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets; and Launch Complex 41 for ULA Atlas rockets.Where on Cape Canaveral is launch pad 39B? ›
While there are no public tours of SpaceX available, the Starship building site can be seen from Boca Chica and if you're lucky enough to be in South Padre Island at the right time, you could even witness the next launch attempt in the comfort of your beachfront vacation rental.Can you watch SpaceX launch in person boca chica? ›
Experience SpaceX Launches From Boca Chica
While there are no in-person attractions or buildings to visit at SpaceX, you can easily see the launch tests from multiple areas, like South Padre Island, which is right across the bay from the site.
Disney World is about 60 miles away from Cape Canaveral, but you can still get good views of space shots from many places in and around the theme parks. It typically takes about 30-60 seconds after launch for the rocket to reach a high enough altitude that it's visible from Disney.Where is the best place to see rocket launch in New Smyrna Beach? ›
Some of the best spots are on the south side of New Smyrna Beach, like Canaveral National Seashore - Apollo Beach. This park, which costs $20 per vehicle, fills quickly on launch days, opens at 6 a.m., and gates close at 8 p.m. during the summer. Insider tip: get there early.