Falcon 9 static fire conducted ahead of JCSAT-16 mission
SpaceX performed their customary static fire test of the Falcon 9 that will be used to loft the JCSAT-16 satellite into orbit. According to US Launch Report, the approximately three-second firing took place around 11 p.m. EDT August 10 (03:00 GMT Aug. 11) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40.
The static fire test is done to ensure that everything is working properly in advance of the launch. It involves a full countdown and fueling of the rocket. When the engines ignite, the fire a short burst – usually around three seconds – before the flight computer automatically commands an abort. SpaceX engineers will pore over the data in the coming days to ensure that all is well on the booster.
Liftoff is scheduled to take place during a two-hour window that opens at 1:26 a.m. EDT (05:26 GMT) August 14. At T–0, the nine Merlin engines on the Falcon 9 will roar to life and turn night into day at the Cape.
The rocket will place the Japanese JCSAT-16 spacecraft into a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). This will be the second JCSAT satellite to launch this year after the successful JCSAT-14 mission in early May. It will be the fifth GTO mission performed by the Falcon 9 in 2016.
Because this mission will utilize a high-energy trajectory to sling the payload into orbit, instead of returning to the launch area, the first stage of the Falcon 9 will attempt a landing downrange at sea on the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship called Of Course I Still Love You. SpaceX has successfully recovered three boosters on similar trajectories. The first happened to be during May’s JCSAT-14 mission. To date, the company has landed a total of five rockets – two on land and three at sea.
This weekend’s launch will be the eight launch of the year for SpaceX in what will be a record year for the company in terms of launches to orbit. If the schedule holds, at least eight more Falcon 9 flights will occur. At least one, possibly two, of those boosters will have been previously flown. Which flight that occurs on is still unknown.
JCSAT-16 will join a satellite fleet operated by Sky Perfect JSAT. It will be used as a backup to ensure redundancy in the constellation. The spacecraft has a weight of about 10,100 lbs (4,600 kilograms), and it sports Ku and Ka-band antennas that will serve the Japanese market to deliver video distribution data transfer services.
Video courtesy of USLaunchReport
Derek Richardson has a degree in mass media, with an emphasis in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While at Washburn, he was the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also has a website about human spaceflight called Orbital Velocity. You can find him on twitter @TheSpaceWriter.