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The Mission

Rocket: Falcon 1
Mission: Flight 004
Payload: Mass simulator
Date: Sept. 28, 2008
Launch Window: 7:00 p.m. to 12 midnight EDT (2300-0400 GMT)
Site: Omelek Island, Kwajalein Atoll

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Launch Timeline

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Our Flight 1 Coverage

Our Flight 2 Coverage

Our Flight 3 Coverage

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Falcon 1 Flight 4 timeline
Posted: September 27, 2008
Updated: Sept. 28 to correct 7.5 km/sec typo

T+00:00 Liftoff
The Merlin main engine, producing 78,000 pounds of sea level thrust, powers the Falcon 1 rocket away from its launch pad on Omelek Island at Kwajalein Atoll.
T+00:04 Tower Clear
The 70-foot-tall Falcon 1 rocket clears the small umbilical tower erected at the launch pad.
T+00:54 Mach 1
The Falcon 1 rocket passes the speed of sound while continuing to ride the power of its Merlin main engine.
T+01:08 Max-Q
The Falcon 1 rocket passes through the period of maximum aerodynamic pressure on the vehicle. This point in the flight is often called Max-Q.
T+02:20 Inertial Guidance
The Falcon 1 guidance system switches to inertial mode.
T+02:25 Second Stage Pressurization
The second stage's kerosene and liquid oxygen tanks are pressurized in preparation for the ignition of the Kestrel engine.
T+02:37 MECO
The Merlin 1C engine exhausts its supply of propellant and shuts down, an event known as Main Engine Cut-Off or MECO.
T+02:42 Stage Separation
The first and second stage separate. For this fourth flight of Falcon, the length of time between engine cutoff and stage separation has been lengthened from approximately 1.5 seconds to 5 seconds. This will allow the residual engine thrust to subside before the spent stage is jettisoned, thereby preventing the stage collision that caused the third launch to fail.
T+02:45 Kestrel Ignition
The second stage Kestrel engine ignites and ramps up to 6,900 pounds of thrust for injection of the rocket into Earth orbit.
T+02:48 Falcon 1 Reaches Space
The Falcon 1 passes an altitude of 100 kilometers, or 62 miles, the internationally-accepted boundary between Earth's atmosphere and space.
T+02:53 Stiffener Jettison
Structural stiffeners attached to the Kestrel engine nozzle are jettisoned a few seconds after ignition.
T+03:15 Fairing Jettison
The two halves of the Falcon 1's payload fairing are jettisoned after the rocket completes its flight through the thick layers of the atmosphere. The nose cone shields the payload during the countdown and early portions of the launch.
T+08:49 Terminal Guidance
As the rocket nears orbit, the Falcon 1 switches to terminal guidance mode.
T+09:34 Orbital Velocity
The rocket achieves a speed of 7.5 kilometers per second, the required velocity to reach the mission's planned orbit.
T+09:39 SECO
The Kestrel engine shuts down after the rocket climbs into an orbit with a high point of 425 miles, a low point of 205 miles and an inclination of 9 degrees. The payload for this demonstration test launch, a 364-pound mass designed to simulate a satellite, will remain attached to the second stage.
T+10:18 Loss of Signal
Ground stations lose the radio signal from the Falcon 1 rocket as the vehicle flies over the horizon at Kwajalein Atoll.

Data source: SpaceX

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