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SpaceX’s 55th launch this year, which saw it break a record and conduct more than one launch per week in 2022, also provided one of the best views of a rocket launch. The company has been on a roll lately, with one of its first launches in 2022 showing a Falcon 9 rocket separating in midair and a more recent launch from the Falcon Heavy, both boosters landing on the ground after separating in midair from the primary rocket. Super fast. However, today’s launch was the best of both. Not only did the Falcon 9 soar through sunset from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, but rare footage of the rocket showed the rocket’s first stage lifting itself immediately after separating from the second stage.
The launch was for British satellite company OneWeb’s 40 small satellites into polar orbit, and the Falcon 9 booster used was relatively newer having flown just three missions before today’s flight.
The Falcon 9 provides fiery views as it soars into the skies over Florida
Almost immediately after liftoff, which occurred at 5:27 p.m. ET today, a close-up of the Merlin rocket’s nine Falcon 9 engines saw the rocket engulfed in the orange glow of the sunset as it rapidly accelerated to supersonic speed and crossed maximum pressure. dynamic.
As the missile blasted away, the tracking camera brought the entire 230-foot missile into frame. This was a few moments before the first and second stages separated, and up until this point, it looked like viewers would be treated to the rare image of the stage separating from the outside of the rocket.
In general, at this moment, the camera view switches to the inside of the two stages of the rocket, and this time was no exception either, as at the point of stage separation, the view from inside the first stage booster showed that separation had occurred, and the engine of the second stage had successfully ignited.
However, before that, as the missile crossed 2,600 mph, a view showed the entire nine Merlin engines breathing flames and their entire shaft visible in the frame.
The scenic and fiery scenes were followed by two separate phases. Footage from this part of the launch, when both were traveling at over 5,800 kilometers per hour, initially showed the cold nitrogen gas reaction control engines on the Falcon 9 first stage firing to redirect them away from the second stage.
Immediately afterwards, arguably the best views of the day came when the Merlin 1D’s second stage engine started firing, the first stage engines lit up by their back burner. This created a large plume that seemed to engulf both of them until they raced away from each other. The pillar of the first stage was larger, and as it pierced through the air, a bubble appeared on its top.
The final footage from the tracking camera, taken when stage one was traveling at 5,068kph and stage two was traveling at 6,078kph, showed the pair as tiny dots in the sky racing away from each other.
The cold-gas propellant is nothing short of science fiction
However, at this point, if you think SpaceX is done for today, you’d be wrong. Falcon 9 Phase 1 was never in the mood to stop showing off, with the next set of stunning visuals that are nothing short of sci-fi.
The missile uses bursts of cold gas to orient itself, and these fires are fired at pre-planned times to ensure that it orients itself correctly for landing. Those thrusters fired dozens of touchdown times today and showed rapid pulses of cold gas emanating from all sides of the rocket in a truly stunning array of views as it traveled at more than 2,300 kilometers per hour.
The final sightings of today’s landing — the 145th for a Falcon 9 rocket — came when the rocket’s Merlin 1D central engine caught a burst of flame on entry as it returned to Earth and returned to provide some fiery views. The landing was rare as it also saw the rocket fall to the ground, as SpaceX generally uses drone ships to retrieve the rocket boosters.
As it descended, a distinctive sonic boom accompanied the rocket, along with a sea of flames at its bottom when it touched the ground. For the second stage, it continued its flight with another short engine start that lasted three seconds before deploying the first of 14 satellites about an hour after launch. The second deployment sent thirteen satellites into low Earth orbit about sixteen minutes later.