Falcon 9 Main Engine Cuts Off, First Stage Separates

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket's first stage separates from the second stage.
The first stage of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket separates from the second stage after launching the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Dec. 16, 2022. Photo credit: NASA

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket’s nine Merlin engines have finished their burn, and the first stage has separated from the rocket. As the second stage continues carrying the U.S.- and French-led Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite on its journey, the rocket’s first stage will attempt a controlled landing at Vandenberg Space Force Base’s landing zone 4.