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FALCON 9 FLIGHT 1 IN PICTURES

Flight sequence for Falcon 9 Flight 1 as it departs from the SpaceX launch pad at Launch Complex 40, Cape Canaveral, Florida on June 4, 2010 with an official liftoff time of 2:45 PM Eastern / 11:45 AM Pacific / 18:45:00 UTC.

Unless otherwise noted, all image credits: SpaceX.

 

View from the second stage’s aft-facing camera, at T minus 10 seconds, looking down the length of the Falcon 9 rocket,
about 37 meters (120 feet) above the launch pad and main engines. The quick connect panel at left provides propellant,
power and communications to the second stage of the vehicle, and disconnects at liftoff. The code at lower left is UTC time.

 

At one second prior to liftoff, the nine Merlin 1C main engines reach full power, just before the launch
mount releases the vehicle for flight.

 

As it departs from the launch pad, the rising Falcon 9 passes the clamps located at the top of the transporter/erector structure.

 

Pieces of frost fall from the cryogenic liquid oxygen tanks, and look like fireworks when illuminated by the engines’ light.
Small white cylinders to left and right are the tops of two of the four lightning towers that surround and protect the launch pad.

 

The circular ring road that surrounds the launch site recedes as the rocket climbs.

 

A condensation shock front surrounds the vehicle as it climbs above a thin deck clouds. Insert has view from the ground
showing the full body condensation wave. Insert image credit: Ben Cooper, launchphotography.com / spaceflightnow.com

 

Passing the point of Maximum Dynamic Pressure (MaxQ). From this time onwards, the combination of decreasing atmospheric
pressure and increasing velocity will apply less and less force to the vehicle.

 

The exhaust plume darkens due to decreasing oxygen at this altitude, and expands due to the decreasing atmospheric pressure.

 

The exhaust plume reaches its maximum size just before first stage shutdown.

 

After first stage shutdown, the vehicle coasts for a moment before initiating stage separation.

 

Stage separation begins with the pneumatic pushers pushing the first stage away.

 

Stage separation exposes the nozzle extension of the second stage Merlin Vacuum engine.

 

Ignition of the second stage Merlin Vacuum engine.

 

The Merlin Vacuum fires without visible flame as we cross into the defined edge of space.

 

As the nozzle extension warms, it softens the adhesive that secures the four segments of the nozzle stiffening ring.
They release and fall away, similar to the event on SpaceX’s Falcon 1.

 

The vehicle remains on the designated flight path and continues climbing towards orbit.

 

Continuing to climb, the coast of Florida lies below the clouds at upper right.

 

Reaching orbital altitude and speed. The gold colored plate at left is the interior portion of the quick disconnect panel.

 

Upon Second stage Engine Cut Off (SECO), the Falcon 9 and Dragon spacecraft qualification unit reach low earth orbit!
The vehicle sent this final image just moments before loss-of-signal as it passes over the horizon as viewed from the launch site.