Featured Image: SpaceX
Lift Off Time
(Subject to change)
December 16, 2022 – 21:21 UTC | 16:21 EST
O3b mPower 1 & 2
(What rocket company is launching it?)
(Who’s paying for this?)
Falcon 9 Block 5
Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40), Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, USA
Where is the satellite going?
8,000 km Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) at an inclination of 70°
Will they be attempting to recover the first stage?
Where will the first stage land?
Will they be attempting to recover the fairings?
Are these fairings new?
How’s the weather looking?
This will be the:
– 200th SpaceX mission
– 58th SpaceX mission of 2022
– 191st Falcon 9 mission
– 57th Falcon 9 mission of 2022
– 182nd orbital launch attempt of 2022
Where to watch
Once available, an official livestream will be listed here
What’s All This Mean?
SpaceX will be launching the O3b mPower 1 & 2, the first two communication satellites of the novel terabit-per-second O3b mPower constellation in MEO. The satellites will launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40), Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, USA.
O3b mPower 1 & 2 Mission
The O3b mPower is a successor of the O3b constellation operating in MEO by SES S.A. It will consist of 11 next-generation high-throughput satellites that will also work in MEO around 8,000 km above the Earth. From MEO, the constellation will cover 96% of the globe. The satellites are built and tested by Boeing and are based on its flight-proven 702 platform. Moreover, the O3b mPower 1 & 2 feature an all-electric propulsion system, custom solar arrays manufactured by Spectrolab, and the 702X software-defined payload with more than 5,000 steerable and fully-shapeable beams per satellite.
The O3b mPower 1 & 2 satellites make use of a software system called Adaptive Resource Control (ARC). ARC will provide dynamic management of service requests and available resources in orbit and on the ground. SES has been working on ARC with Kythera Space Solutions since September 2019, when they jointly announced the development.
The O3b mPower satellite system aims to provide high-performance connectivity services to multiple sectors, including government, energy, and cruise sectors, as well as telecom companies and mobile network operators. Apart from the 11 satellites, the constellation will comprise eight ground stations worldwide and dozens of software service providers. The O3b mPower’s start-of-service date is scheduled for Q3 2023 with six satellites in orbit.
What Is Falcon 9 Block 5?
The Falcon 9 Block 5 is SpaceX’s partially reusable two-stage medium-lift launch vehicle. The vehicle consists of a reusable first stage, an expendable second stage, and, when in payload configuration, a pair of reusable fairing halves.
The Falcon 9 first stage contains 9 Merlin 1D+ sea level engines. Each engine uses an open gas generator cycle and runs on RP-1 and liquid oxygen (LOx). Each engine produces 845 kN of thrust at sea level, with a specific impulse (ISP) of 285 seconds, and 934 kN in a vacuum with an ISP of 313 seconds. Due to the powerful nature of the engine, and the large amount of them, the Falcon 9 first stage is able to lose an engine right off the pad, or up to two later in flight, and be able to successfully place the payload into orbit.
The Merlin engines are ignited by triethylaluminum and triethylborane (TEA-TEB), which instantaneously burst into flames when mixed in the presence of oxygen. During static fire and launch the TEA-TEB is provided by the ground service equipment. However, as the Falcon 9 first stage is able to propulsively land, three of the Merlin engines (E1, E5, and E9) contain TEA-TEB canisters to relight for the boost back, reentry, and landing burns.
The Falcon 9 second stage is the only expendable part of the Falcon 9. It contains a singular MVacD engine that produces 992 kN of thrust and an ISP of 348 seconds. The second stage is capable of doing several burns, allowing the Falcon 9 to put payloads in several different orbits.
For missions with many burns and/or long coasts between burns, the second stage is able to be equipped with a mission extension package. When the second stage has this package it has a grey strip, which helps keep the RP-1 warm, an increased number of composite-overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs) for pressurization control, and additional TEA-TEB.
Falcon 9 Fairings
The Falcon 9’s fairing consists of two dissimilar reusable halves. The first half (the half that faces away from the transport erector) is called the active half, and houses the pneumatics for the separation system. The other fairing half is called the passive half. As the name implies, this half plays a purely passive role in the fairing separation process, as it relies on the pneumatics from the active half.
Both fairing halves are equipped with cold gas thrusters and a parafoil which are used to softly touch down the fairing half in the ocean. SpaceX used to attempt to catch the fairing halves, however, at the end of 2020 this program was canceled due to safety risks and a low success rate.
In 2021, SpaceX started flying a new version of the Falcon 9 fairing. The new “upgraded” version has vents only at the top of each fairing half, by the gap between the halves, whereas the old version had vents placed spread equidistantly around the base of the fairing. Moving the vents decreases the chance of water getting into the fairing, making the chance of a successful scoop significantly higher.
O3b mPower 1 & 2 Countdown
All times approximate
HR/MIN/SECEVENT00:38:00SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load00:35:00RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading begins00:35:001st stage LOX (liquid oxygen) loading begins00:16:002nd stage LOX loading begins00:07:00Falcon 9 begins engine chill prior to launch00:01:00Command flight computer to begin final prelaunch checks00:01:00Propellant tank pressurization to flight pressure begins00:00:45SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for launch00:00:03Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start00:00:00Falcon 9 liftoff
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