September 25, 2021

Falcon 9 launch timeline with Formosat 5


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Follow the key events of the Falcon 9 rocket’s ascent to orbit with the Formosat 5 Earth observation satellite for Taiwan’s National Space Organization.

The 229-foot-tall (70-meter) rocket will lift off Saturday at 11:50 a.m. PDT (2:50 p.m. EDT; 1850 GMT) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Data source: SpaceX

T-0:00:00: Liftoff

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.
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.

T+0:01:09: Max-Q

The Falcon 9 rocket reaches Max Q, the point of maximum aerodynamic pressure.
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.

T+0:02:28: MECO

The Falcon 9’s nine Merlin 1D engines shut down.
The Falcon 9’s nine Merlin 1D engines shut down.

T+0:02:32: Stage 1 Separation

The Falcon 9’s first stage separates from the second stage moments after MECO.
The Falcon 9’s first stage separates from the second stage moments after MECO.

T+0:02:39: Stage 2 Ignition

The second stage Merlin 1D vacuum engine ignites for an approximately 6-minute burn to inject the Jason 3 satellite into a parking orbit.
The second stage Merlin 1D vacuum engine ignites for an approximately six-and-a-half minute burn to guide the Formosat 5 satellite into orbit.

T+0:02:53: 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 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.

T+0:08:45: 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+0:09:17: SECO 1

The Merlin 1D vacuum engine turns off after placing the Jason 3 satellite in temporary parking orbit, beginning at 46-minute coast in orbit.
The Merlin 1D vacuum engine turns off after placing the Formosat 5 satellite into its planned sun-synchronous orbit.

T+0:10:47: Stage 1 Landing

The Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage booster touches down on SpaceX’s drone ship in the Pacific Ocean.

T+0:11:18: Formosat 5 Separation

The Formosat 5 spacecraft deploys from the Falcon 9 rocket’s upper stage to begin its five-year Earth observation mission.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


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