An Analysis of SpaceX's Falcon 9 Crash Landing

November 23, 2015 – 06:08 pm

sketches_fall_14_key3From this you can see that at first, the rocket had a fairly constant velocity in the vertical direction with a value around 35.8 m/s (86 mph). That seems quite fast—but what do I know? I’m not actually a rocket scientist. The horizontal velocity seems to be much smaller, but I will let you explore that for a homework question (see below). The other interesting thing is the tilt angle of the rocket. My original intention was to mark the top and bottom of the rocket in order to calculate the tilt angle. However, this didn’t work so well. The top of the rocket is much more difficult to see than the bottom (probably because of the flames and stuff coming out of the bottom). Fortunately, it doesn’t matter where I mark the top of the rocket as long as it is in a line along the length of the rocket. If I have these two points (top and bottom), I can calculate the angle.Angular Position of Falcon 9 During Landing Here is a diagram showing how that would work.

With that, I can plot the angular position of the rocket as a function of time.

That plot turned out better than I expected. Clearly you want the rocket to end up with a zero degree deflection – but you can see that at the end it was significantly more than 0 degrees.


This is just too nice of a video to not include homework. So, here is your homework. Some of them are easy and some are not so easy.

  • Estimate the vertical acceleration of the rocket. At what time is the acceleration the greatest? How many g’s is that?
  • Estimate the mass of the rocket and determine the thrust needed to achieve this acceleration.
  • How much fuel would this rocket use to land? Yes, this is a tough question. Really, you need to know the speed of the propellent to determine the rate that fuel is used. I suspect you could look up the type of rocket engine and this would give you a starting point.
  • Make a graph of tilt angle as a function of height above the platform. You can do this with plotly. Just go to the


NASA Commercial Crew Human Spaceflight Program for Transport to the International Space Station (ISS): SpaceX Dragon and Boeing CST-100 Contracts, Safety Reviews, History and Update Reports
eBooks (Progressive Management)

You might also like:

Falcon 9 crash-landing: SpaceX releases footage from
Falcon 9 crash-landing: SpaceX releases footage from ...
SpaceX Falcon 9 CRASH LANDING Footage (January 2015)
SpaceX Falcon 9 CRASH LANDING Footage (January 2015)
Falcon 9 Crash Landing Spacex Releases Footage From
Falcon 9 Crash Landing Spacex Releases Footage From ...
NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services: A New Era in Spaceflight - History of International Space Station (ISS) Cargo and Crew, SpaceX, Orbital Sciences, Bigelow
eBooks (Progressive Management)
ACESR Spacex Year Of The Dragon Mouse Pad / Mouse Mat / Mousepad / Mousemat
Office Product (ACESR)
  • Excellent tracking for all mice
  • Smooth Cloth Surface
  • Non-skid base securely holds the mouse pad in place
  • Create Personalized Photo Mouse Pads
  • Dye Sublimation imprinted
SamSingl Samsingl Women Spacex Dragon Capsule Flip-flop 5.5 B(m) Us Rubber Colorful
Sports (SamSingl)
  • Cozy, beach-ready
  • SamSingl
  • Cozy, beach-ready sandal
  • Women
ACESR iPhone 6 Plus Case, Spacex - Year Of The Dragon Iphone Customize Photo Case for iPhone 6 Plus 5.5inch with TPU Black Border
Wireless (ACESR)
  • Designed for the Lastest iPhone 6 Plus(5.5inch), NOT for Apple iPhone 6 (4.7inch)
  • Durable TPU Materia
  • Access to all ports, controls & sensors.
  • Create a custom case with your favorite photos and designs
  • Thermal transfer, Photo Printed in the plastic plate

Related posts:

  1. SpaceX Falcon 9 Engine Test
  2. SpaceX Falcon 9 Vandenberg
  3. SpaceX Falcon 9 Landing Video
  4. SpaceX Falcon 9 Landing Test
  5. SpaceX Dragon Landing gear
  • avatar Who would win out of 1 lv9 Jiggs and 3 lv6 Captain Falcons on SSB?
    • Jigglypuff, with 53 kills & 34 deaths if it were for 30 minutes