Live coverage of the countdown and launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Pad 40 at Space Force Station Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Transporter 4 mission will launch 40 small customer payloads around the world. follow us on Twitter.
SpaceX lifted a Falcon 9 rocket vertically on pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station for a launch Friday at 12:24 p.m. EDT (1624 GMT) with 40 satellites to begin observation missions of Earth, communication and technology demonstration.
But there’s only a 30% chance weather conditions will be favorable for launch on Friday, according to the US Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron. A stalled cold front is expected to be over central Florida by the time of Friday’s instant launch opportunity.
“This boundary, along with abundant moisture in place, will bring choppy weather tomorrow, increasing cloud cover as well as the chance of showers and lightning,” the forecast team wrote on Thursday. “So the main concerns are the cumulus rule, the surface electric field rule, and the thick cloud layer rule.”
The Falcon 9 rocket will head southeast from Cape Canaveral, then south along the east coast of Florida to place the mission’s 40 payloads into polar orbit.
The first stage of the rocket is expected to land on the “Just Read the Instructions” drone stationed in the Atlantic Ocean between Cuba and the Bahamas, about 330 miles (530 kilometers) downriver from Cape Canaveral. The booster is making its seventh flight into space since its first mission with NASA Crew-1 astronauts in November 2020.
The second stage will release the mission’s largest payload, the German environmental monitoring spacecraft EnMAP, at an altitude of about 404 miles (650 kilometers). Two smaller payloads will also be deployed at this altitude, followed by two more second-stage burns to lower its orbit to about 310 miles (500 kilometers) for separation from the remaining satellites.
The 2,160-pound (980-kilogram) EnMAP spacecraft carries a hyperspectral terrestrial imaging instrument to monitor crops, forests and other surfaces, providing detailed information on vegetation status and plant health.
The Transporter 4 mission is SpaceX’s fourth dedicated rideshare small satellite launch since January 2021, and the second of four Transporter rideshare flights planned this year.
SpaceX launched the first Transporter mission on January 24, 2021, with a record 143 satellites on a single rocket. The Transporter 2 mission on June 30, 2021 carried 88 payloads into orbit, and Transporter 3 launched on January 13 with 105 spacecraft.
The Transporter 4 manifest is reduced to 40 spacecraft, but this is mainly due to the presence of EnMAP on the mission. The satellite is heavier than any of the satellites SpaceX has flown on any of the previous Transporter missions, and the Falcon 9 will deliver EnMAP to a higher orbit than previous rideshare launches.
These factors will prevent the Falcon 9 booster from returning to land at Cape Canaveral, as it has done on the last two Transporter rideshare flights. On Transporter 4, the first stage will provide 15 seconds more boost than on the Transporter 3 mission in January, leaving insufficient propellant to return to Florida’s space coast. Instead, the booster will head for SpaceX’s rocket landing pad.
Read our mission preview story for more details on the Transporter 4 launch.
ROCKET: Falcon 9 (B1061.7)
PAYLOAD: 40 microsatellites, CubeSats, picosatellites, an orbital transfer vehicle and hosted payloads
LAUNCH SITE: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida
RELEASE DATE: April 1, 2022
LAUNCH TIME: 12:24 p.m. EDT (4:24 p.m. GMT)
LAUNCH WINDOW: Instantaneous
WEATHER FORECAST: 30% chance of acceptable weather conditions
BOOSTER RECOVERY: Drone ship “Just read the instructions”
LAUNCH AZIMUTH: South-southeast, then south
TARGET ORBIT: Approximately 404 miles (640 kilometers), 97.9 degree inclination for first three payloads; Approximately 310 miles (500 kilometers), 97.4 degree incline for remaining payloads
- T+00:00: Takeoff
- T+01:12: Maximum air pressure (Max-Q)
- T+02:30: First stage main engine shutdown (MECO)
- T+02:34: Floor separation
- T+02:41: Second stage engine ignition
- T+03:01: Fairing jettison
- T+08:40: First stage inlet combustion ignition (three engines)
- T+09:09: end of first stage input combustion
- T+09:59: Second stage motor shutdown (SECO 1)
- T+09:59: First stage landing burn ignition (one engine)
- T+10:26: First stage landing
- T+14:00: EnMAP Separation
- T+16:41: LEO-1 Separation
- T+17:30: GNOME 3 separation
- T+28:43: Second stage motor restart
- T+28:45: Second stage motor shutdown (SECO 2)
- T+1:08:28: Second stage motor restart
- T+1:08:29: Second stage motor shutdown (SECO 3)
- T+1:14:42: ARCSAT Separation
- T+1:14:54: AlfaCrux Separation
- T+1:15:07:12 Separation of Swarms satellites
- T+1:16:22: Separation from Shakuntala
- T+1:16:39: BDSAT Separation
- T+1:17:08: BRO Separation 7
- T+1:17:28: Separation NewSat 27
- T+1:17:44: Separation NewSat 23
- T+1:18:43: Separation NewSat 24
- T+1:20:18: Separation NewSat 25
- T+1:22:48: Separation NewSat 26
- T+1:23:25: Hawk Separation 4C
- T+1:23:36: Hawk Separation 4B
- T+1:24:13: Hawk Separation 4A
- T+1:25:46: MP42 Separation
- T+1:25:58: Lynk Tower 1 Separation
- T+1:26:17: separation of ION SCV 005 transfer vehicle
- 146th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket since 2010
- 154th launch of the Falcon family of rockets since 2006
- 7th launch of the Falcon 9 booster B1061
- Launch of the 128th Falcon 9 from the Space Coast of Florida
- Launch of the 83rd Falcon 9 from pad 40
- 138th total launch from pad 40
- 89th flight of a repurposed Falcon 9 booster
- 4th Transporter rideshare mission launched by SpaceX
- Launch of the 12th Falcon 9 in 2022
- 12th launch by SpaceX in 2022
- 13th orbital launch based at Cape Canaveral in 2022