SpaceX Falcon 9 launch provides a rare view of stage 1 and 2 rocket separation

October 7, 2013 – 10:17 am

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This morning, SpaceX successfully launched CRS-2 — the second commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station. The Dragon capsule aboard the Falcon 9 rocket will dock with the ISS on Saturday morning, delivering 1, 473 pounds (677kg) of cargo to the astronauts, and will return in a couple of weeks, filled to the brim with scientific experiments.

The launch itself went off almost without a hitch (more on that below), and was wholly unexceptional… except for one thing: Rocket Cam, which sits on the side of the Falcon 9 rocket, transmitted live video for the first nine minutes of the flight, capturing both the first and second stage separations. In previous Falcon launches, the video feed from the Rocket Cam usually dries up before main engine cutoff (MECO), which occurs just before the first stage separation.Falcon 9's first stage begins to drop away In this case, the video feed from Rocket Cam didn’t dry up until an altitude of around 200 kilometers (125mi), as the Dragon capsule drifted off into space in search of the ISS and the second stage began to fall back to Earth.

This means that Rocket Cam captured almost the entirety of the Falcon 9 launch sequence: The three-minute burn of the nine Merlin 1C engines, bringing the rocket to an altitude of around 100km; The separation of the first stage and the ignition of the second stage; The six-minute burn of the single Merlin 1C Vacuum engine, bringing the rocket to an altitude of 200km; And finally stage two separation as the Dragon capsule is delivered into low Earth orbit (LEO). This sequence is something that you will probably never see outside of the cinema. If you can’t watch the video below of the complete launch, check out the screenshots below. Stage one separation occurs at around four minutes into the video; stage two at 10 minutes.

As we alluded to at the start of the story, there was one hitch with the launch of CRS-2: After stage two separation, the Dragon module’s thrusters refused to come online, and thus mission control decided to halt the deployment of the solar array that powers the capsule’s flight to the International Space Station. SpaceX’s CEO, Elon Musk, has been tweeting about the incident, and at the time of publishing the capsule’s solar array has just been successfully deployed. The Dragon capsule may not arrive at the ISS precisely on schedule, however.

Stage one descends towards Earth,  revealing the second stage's Merlin 1C Vacuum engine. Second stage separation. That's the Dragon capsule floating off towards the ISS Audio bilateral Stimulator.


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  • avatar How can you clean and check auto choke on 3.9 falcon motor?
    • start car then spray carby cleaner around the top of the carby and down into the jets while holding the throttle to about 3000 rpm the revs will die a bit when u do this so keep holding the throttle open until revs pick back up if the choke is working properly it should be fully open at operating temp