Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Live updates from Monday’s Türksat 6A mission

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Launch recap: Scroll down to review live coverage of the Monday, July 8, liftoff of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral on the Türksat 6A mission.

It’s launch day! A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is slated to send the Türksat 6A communications satellite up into orbit this afternoon — but will stormy summertime cooperate?

Welcome to FLORIDA TODAY Space Team live coverage of today’s SpaceX mission from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

After five delays, SpaceX is now targeting 7:30 p.m. EDT to launch the Türksat 6A satellite into geostationary orbit from Launch Complex 40.

However, the Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron only forecasts 30% odds of “go for launch” weather, citing coastal afternoon thunderstorms. Primary concerns: cumulus clouds, anvil clouds and surface electric fields.

No Central Florida sonic booms are expected. After soaring skyward along a due east trajectory, the rocket’s first-stage booster will target landing aboard a SpaceX drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

Cape Canaveral: Is there a launch today? Upcoming SpaceX, NASA, ULA rocket launch schedule in Florida

Update 7:39 p.m.: The Falcon 9 first-stage booster just landed aboard SpaceX’s drone ship Just Read the Instructions in the Atlantic Ocean, completing its 15th mission.

Update 7:30 p.m.: SpaceX has just launched the Falcon 9 carrying the Türksat 6A satellite from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Update 7:23 p.m.: Tonight’s mission marks the 15th flight for this Falcon 9 first-stage booster, SpaceX reported.

The booster previously launched CRS-26, OneWeb Launch 16, Intelsat IS-40e, O3b mPOWER, Ovzon 3, Eutelsat 36D and eight Starlink missions.

Following stage separation, crews expect the booster to land on the SpaceX drone ship Just Read the Instructions in the Atlantic Ocean 8 minutes, 36 seconds after liftoff.

Update 7:20 p.m.: SpaceX’s launch webcast hosted on X (formerly Twitter) is now posted above, right below the countdown clock.

Liftoff is scheduled in 10 minutes from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Update 7:08 p.m. Earlier, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex officials announced the main complex would remain open until 7 p.m. so guests could view the Türksat 6A launch.

However, the delayed 7:30 p.m. liftoff time is occurring too late, and the tourist attraction will not remain open.

Update 6:59 p.m.: SpaceX just announced Falcon 9 rocket fueling procedures are finally taking place at Launch Complex 40.

“All systems are looking good for today’s launch of the @Turksat 6A mission from Florida. Weather conditions have improved for liftoff, and propellant load is underway,” SpaceX officials said in a tweet.

That means the Türksat 6A countdown is now locked in to lift off at 7:30 p.m. without any delays, or else the launch must be postponed.

Update 6:45 p.m.: If weather conditions continue improving and SpaceX does proceed with a 7:30 p.m. launch, here’s a behind-the-scenes Falcon 9 countdown timeline. T-minus:

  • 38 minutes: SpaceX launch director verifies “go” for propellant load.
  • 35 minutes: Rocket-grade kerosene and first-stage liquid oxygen loading begins.
  • 16 minutes: Second-stage liquid oxygen loading begins.
  • 7 minutes: Falcon 9 begins engine chill prior to launch.
  • 1 minute: Command flight computer begins final prelaunch checks; propellant tank pressurization to flight pressure begins.
  • 45 seconds: SpaceX launch director verifies “go” for launch.
  • 3 seconds: Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start.
  • 0 seconds: Liftoff.

Update 6:21 p.m.: In a familiar refrain, SpaceX officials have pushed back the liftoff target to 7:30 p.m.

However, FLORIDA TODAY Photographer/Videographer Craig Bailey reports that skies are clearing at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Update 5:56 p.m.: SpaceX’s latest target launch time is 7 p.m. That marks today’s fourth delay.

“Liftoff of the @Turksat 6A mission is now targeted for no earlier than 7:00 p.m. ET due to unfavorable weather conditions,” SpaceX officials announced in a tweet.

Update 5:40 p.m.: This National Weather Service radar loop shows an angry red blotch of severe storms pummeling the Cocoa Beach-Port Canaveral area.

Update 5:28 p.m.: SpaceX has announced a new target time of 6:30 p.m., citing poor weather.

Update 5:16 p.m.: The new liftoff time is 6 p.m. Viera and Rockledge have been getting pounded by thunderstorms during the past half hour or so.

“Teams are continuing to monitor weather,” SpaceX officials said in a tweet.

Update 4:46 p.m.: SpaceX officials have pushed back the target liftoff time 20 minutes, to 5:41 p.m.

Update 4:38 p.m.: Brevard County Emergency Management officials have activated the agency’s launch operations support team ahead of SpaceX’s upcoming Falcon 9 launch.

Update 4:29 p.m.: This National Weather Service radar loop shows heavy thunderstorm activity southwest of Cape Canaveral — but nearly all of the poor weather looks like it’s west of Interstate 95.

Update 4:15 p.m.: A National Weather Service heat advisory remains in effect until 6 p.m. for Brevard County and East-Central Florida.

At 3:55 p.m., the heat index stood at a scorching 108 degrees at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, the NWS reported. Wind was 13 mph from the southeast, and visibility stretched outward to 10 miles.

Meteorologists predict a 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms this afternoon at the Cape.

Update 3:59 p.m.: Details from the 45th Weather Squadron’s forecast, which also pegs the odds of favorable weather at only 30% for Tuesday’s backup launch day.

“For both Monday and Tuesday, the ridge is expected to shift south of the spaceport, bringing weak southwesterly winds and coastal afternoon thunderstorms to the Cape,” the forecast said.

“Some of these storms may produce 40 mph or greater winds. Convective activity should taper off after sunset, but steering winds are expected to be weak, possibly extending any weather violations that occur,” the forecast said.

For the latest news and launch schedule from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, visit floridatoday.com/space.

Rick Neale is a Space Reporter at FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Neale at Rneale@floridatoday.com. Twitter/X: @RickNeale1

Space is important to us and that’s why we’re working to bring you top coverage of the industry and Florida launches. Journalism like this takes time and resources. Please support it with a subscription here.

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