August 18, 2019

Timeline of the Falcon 9 rocket’s launch of the Radarsat Constellation Mission


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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

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+0:01:03: 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+0:02:13: MECO

The Falcon 9’s nine Merlin 1D engines shut down.
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.
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 Jason 3 satellite into a parking orbit.
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 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 Jason 3 satellite in temporary parking orbit, beginning at 46-minute coast in orbit.
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 12-second burn to circularize its orbit.
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 with a high point of 857 miles (1,380 kilometers), a low point of 825 miles (1,328 kilometers) and an inclination of 66 degrees.
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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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


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