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
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+0:02:32: Stage 1 Separation
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 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.
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 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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