SpaceX will launch the THAICOM 6 satellite from its Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The livestream will begin at 4:26 p.m. EST while the launch window begins at 5:06 p.m. EST.
THAICOM 6 is a communications satellite and serves as SpaceX’s second geostationary transfer mission and its second commercial mission. SpaceX launched the SES-8 satellite into geostationary transfer orbit on Dec. 3. The first GEO mission for the Falcon 9 rocket was delayed by technical glitches. The THAICOM 6 launch was pushed back from Friday due to poor weather conditions.
According to SpaceX, “THAICOM 6 is a hybrid Ku- and C-band spacecraft that weighs 3,016 kg (6,649 lbs) at launch.” THAICOM 6 will provide service to Southeast Asia, via the Ku-band payload, and Africa, via the C-band payload. The Falcon 9 rocket will launch the satellite into GTO, approximately 90,000 kilometers, 55, 923 miles, above the surface of the Earth. It will take approximately 31 minutes after launch for the THAICOM 6 to reach Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit.
Falcon 9 has already been fueled and sits ready for launch and will have a one-hour launch window. The Falcon 9 hits its first milestone 80 seconds into flight, when it passes the area of maximum aerodynamic pressure, due to the rocket’s velocity and resistance from Earth’s atmosphere, notes SpaceX. The main engine cutoff, MECO, when the first-stage engines are shut down, occurs 174 seconds into flight.
Preparing to launch a Thaicom satellite to geostationary super-sync orbit at 5pm Florida time pic.twitter.com/cEq8TEXeo6
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 6, 2014
A quick succession of events occurs just after the MECO. The first and second stage of the rocket separate (3 seconds after MECO) followed by the ignition of the second stage engine (7 seconds after MECO). The second stage engine burn lasts for 5 minutes and 35 seconds and the fairing that protects the THAICOM 6 satellite is shed during the burn. The burn will inject the rocket into parking orbit and a second engine burn will occur 18 minutes later. “Approximately three minutes after the second burn (at the 31 minute, 13 second mark after launch), the THAICOM 6 satellite is deployed into orbit,” notes SpaceX.
As reported by Florida Today, if the launch is successful it would lead to Falcon 9 certification for Department of Defense and NASA science satellite launches, notes Florida Today. SpaceX would be the second company to be eligible for these launches, joining United Launch Alliance and its Atlas V and Delta IV rockets.
The SpaceX THAICOM 6 launch livestream begins at 4:26 p.m. EST and can be viewed below.