Falcon-9 1.2V performed successful lift of SES-9 communication satellite yesterday. Unfortunately, according to SpaceX prediction landing of first stage was failure.
This time counting down was not halted – punctually at 23:34 GMT Falcon-9 1.2V with SES-9 on atop lifted off from Cape Canaveral SLC-40. As planned earlier (T+04’00”), after four minutes of flight first stage of Falcon turned off nine Merlin 1D engines and separation started. First stage after reaching safe distance from second stage and SES-9 performed flipping maneuver thanks to its cold gas thrusters and rotated its engines towards to Earth. After few seconds later payload fairing was jettisoned. At T+05’00” (23:41 GMT) second stage engines were fired while first stage after correct reentry burn was getting close to robotic ship with landing platform. After four minutes, at T+09’15” (23:43 GMT) second stage reached parking orbit and turned off its engines; after next three minutes first stage performed attempt of landing on robotic ship 600 km from Cape Canaveral on Atlantic Ocean. In ninth minute of flight Falcon-9 reached altitude of 165 km and speed of over 26000 km/h. In T+27’15” engines of second stage were started again to lift SES-9 into correct position. Due the plan of SpaceX to lift SES-9 as far as possible, after second burn target supersynchonous transfer orbit was planned for 39300 km x 290 km with inclination on 28°. Second burn lasted for around 48 seconds and at T+28’00” second stage turned off engines for good. Weighting 5271 kg SES-9 became ready for deployment and at 00:07 GMT in T+32’00” SES-9 separated from second stage of Falcon-9. Planned orbit was reached correctly and from that moment satellite was ready for its lasting for 15 years mission. SES-9 will reach 108.2° East orbital slot on 1st July 2016 thanks to its Xenon Ion Propulsion System. Elon Musk confirmed officially that SES-9 mission was successful – according to his post on Twitter altitude is even higher than it was planned earlier:
“Target altitude of 40,600 km achieved. Thanks @SES_Satellites for riding on Falcon 9! Looking forward to future missions.”
Unfortunately landing of first stage on drone ship was failed. Rocket speed was too high to perform correct touchdown:
“Rocket landed hard on the drone ship. Didn’t expect this one to work (v hot reentry), but next flight has a good chance.”
Official confirmation of good health of SES-9 was delivered from Boeing just before 03:00 GMT – satellite is transmitting data correctly, all systems are working as they should. Good luck SES-9 !