Follow the key events of the Falcon 9 rocket’s ascent to orbit with three Earth observation satellites for Canada’s Radarsat Constellation Mission.
The 229-foot-tall (70-meter) rocket will lift off Wednesday at 7:17 a.m. PDT (10:17 a.m. EDT; 1417 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 4-East at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The Falcon 9’s first stage booster, which previously completed a launch and landing in March, will return for a propulsive touchdown at Vandenberg around eight minutes later.
Data source: SpaceX
After the rocket’s nine Merlin 1D engines pass an automated health check, the Falcon 9 is released from Space Launch Complex 4-East at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
The Falcon 9 rocket reaches Max Q, the point of maximum aerodynamic pressure. The first stage’s nine Merlin 1D engines produce about 1.7 million pounds of thrust.
The Falcon 9’s nine Merlin 1D engines shut down.
T+0:02:17: Stage 1 Separation
The Falcon 9’s first stage separates from the second stage moments after MECO.
T+0:02:24: Stage 2 Ignition
The second stage Merlin 1D vacuum engine ignites for an approximately 6-minute burn to inject the Radarsat Constellation Mission satellites into a parking orbit.
T+0:02:48: Fairing Jettison
The 5.2-meter (17.1-foot) diameter payload fairing jettisons once the Falcon 9 rocket ascends through the dense lower atmosphere. The 43-foot-tall fairing is made of two clamshell-like halves composed of carbon fiber with an aluminum honeycomb core. The fairing halves will deploy parafoils for a controlled descent into the Pacific Ocean.
T+0:03:18: Stage 1 Boost-back Burn Complete
A subset of the Falcon 9’s engines ignited to help the rocket reverse course and target a landing on Landing Zone 4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
T+0:06:04: Stage 1 Entry Burn
A subset of the first stage’s Merlin 1D engines ignite for an entry burn to slow down for landing. A final landing burn will occur just before touchdown.
T+0:07:53: Stage 1 Landing
The Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage booster touches down on Landing Zone 4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
T+0:08:28: SECO 1
The Merlin 1D vacuum engine turns off after placing the Radarsat satellites in a temporary parking orbit, beginning at 42-minute coast in space.
T+0:50:08: Stage 2 Restart
The Falcon 9’s second stage engine ignites again for a 4-second burn to circularize its orbit.
T+0:50:12: SECO 2
The Merlin 1D vacuum engine shuts down after reaching a target orbit about 373 miles (600 kilometers) high with an inclination of 97.7 degrees.
T+0:54:43: RCM 1 Separation
The first of the 3,152-pound (1,430-kilogram) Radarsat Constellation Mission satellites separates from a specially-designed dispenser on the Falcon 9’s upper stage produced by Ruag Space.
T+0:58:24: RCM 2 Separation
The second of the Radarsat Constellation Mission satellites deploys from the Falcon 9 rocket.
T+1:02:13: RCM 3 Separation
The last of the three Radarsat Constellation Mission satellites deploys from the Falcon 9 rocket.
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