Spacex Dec 23 twilight launch, "looked horizontal"

Leifer

Senior Member.
The Spacex Falcon launch on Dec 23rd, 2017 was spectacular, mainly because it happened soon after twilight. The sky was dark, but the rocket's plume was lit by sunlight, high above.

But several NASA skeptics are claiming "It didn't go very high" and "It was flying horizontally not upward" (paraphrased)

The rocket flew North-to-South over the Pacific ocean, and the spent first-stage booster was deployed and ditched off the coast of Baja, Mexico.
Here is the general NOTAM, NOTMAR map area for the booster ocean ditch.... (M1340 Iridium-4 water landing).
https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewe...&ll=31.06553227915776,-119.73669807854498&z=6
M1304_iridium_spacex.jpg
Although I understand it (visually in my head), trying to explain "why" the launch seemed to be going "horizontal" is difficult because.... trying to explain overhead perspective on a sphere is complicated in words.

Can someone find a Google Earth trajectory image (track) of the rocket path ?
 

Leifer

Senior Member.
I did try to explain that, because it was over the Pacific, and people in Arizona were able to see it, it must have been very high.
 

Hevach

Senior Member.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravity_turn

Most of the delta-V for an orbital launch is horizontal, not vertical. Shortly after launch a short pitch over maneuver is performed, after which gravity slowly makes it rotate towards horizontal.

In some cases this goes all the way to orbit, with the burn ending completely horizontal to circularize the orbit. In others this will stop when the desired apogee is achieved, and followed by a horizontal circularization burn to establish orbit.
 

Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
Launches don't go straight up though do they? After the initial ascent they pitch over into a more horizontal flight
Excatly. To enter low-earth orbit they need to be travelling at a horizontal speed of about 17,500mph. You don't get that by launching vertically!
 

Leifer

Senior Member.
Yes, the most efficient way to enter an orbit is to leave gravity and head towards an orbit, at the same time. (in an arc) Speed (semi-hoizontally) is needed to reach/gain orbital velocity.

The people who don't understand this are not stupid, they just haven't thought about it very much.
 

Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
Yes, the most efficient way to enter an orbit is to leave gravity and head towards an orbit, at the same time. (in an arc)

The people who don't understand this are not stupid, they just haven't thought about it very much.

I think it's the idea that outer space is a long way away and you have to travel straight up for ages to get there. In fact, "outer space" starts at 100km (a little over 60 miles) above the Earth. As Fred Hoyle said, you could drive there in less than an hour, if your car went straight up.

LEO is a little higher than that: typically about 500-1,000 miles up, but with a rocket it really doesn't take that long to reach that height - and you don't want to go any higher than that, so of course you angle over towards the horizontal pretty quickly.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member

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Leifer

Senior Member.
I tried to explain it to some NASA antagonists... this very thing.
But most people don't quite understand perspective, and when they see the rocket going almost horizontal, they don't understand the perspective part of it.
If the rocket was really going horizontal (and not very high), it would quickly dip over the horizon because of perspective.. just like a long contrail dips toward the ocean, even though it's at level flight.

But people in Arizona saw it too, which means it was indeed very high.
 

Leifer

Senior Member.
Thanks Mick.
I searched online for a trajectory of the recent launch, but could not find anything (yet).
But records of other launches would work or help.
Even the Apollo missions needed to orbit the earth first, before a slingshot to the moon.
(it gets difficult to use the Apollo missions as an example online, because of so much suspicion)
 

Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
I tried to explain it to some NASA antagonists... this very thing.
But most people don't quite understand perspective, and when they see the rocket going almost horizontal, they don't understand the perspective part of it.
If the rocket was really going horizontal (and not very high), it would quickly dip over the horizon because of perspective.. just like a long contrail dips toward the ocean, even though it's at level flight.

But people in Arizona saw it too, which means it was indeed very high.

The thing is, even though it is really high, it is still roughly horizontal (by the time it reaches that height) and therefore does dip over the horizon. It's a nice illustration of the Earth's curvature, and yet Flat Earthers claim it shows the rockets ditching in the sea, using memes like this!



But I digress...
 

Leifer

Senior Member.
It's a nice illustration of the Earth's curvature

And it's a good illustration of the curvature of the earth, .... that anything circling the globe will eventually dip toward (over) the horizon.
But FE belief in "no satellites possible" corners them into saying "it just crashed into the ocean".
 

Leifer

Senior Member.
Disclosure... I have been working in Elon Musk's principle home as a "decorative painter" and artist for months now, and I have yet to find his "secret underground tunnel" per online rumors.
I met him once, but have not sat down with him to discuss these things. ;)
Evidently he is aware of online conspiracy game-playing, as he mockingly tweeted about the launch, "Nuclear alien UFO from North Korea" as well as commenting with other CT jests over the years.
.
 

Whitebeard

Senior Member.
Yes, the most efficient way to enter an orbit is to leave gravity and head towards an orbit, at the same time. (in an arc) Speed (semi-hoizontally) is needed to reach/gain orbital velocity.

The people who don't understand this are not stupid, they just haven't thought about it very much.
Come on, its not exactly rocket science....

...err hold on, it IS rocket science ;)
 

Leifer

Senior Member.
Here's a reasonable description of the launch, of what people saw.....

Edit by the video maker,...
"Apologies: I made a huge Mistake - The gap in the trail is the staging event."
 

Leifer

Senior Member.
Here's SpaceFlightInsider's recollection, for reference....

I believe the "fairings" could be seen after shedding - as tiny white-ish dots, in higher res videos or better cameras.

Here is an official Spacex launch video, for reference also. (it's long, but here it starts at launch...)

@ 24:32 there is a trajectory Earth map shown. This may be a simulation, I think so.
You can scroll forward to view progress and snapshots of the circular navigation over the South Pole..
 
Last edited:

cloudspotter

Senior Member.
Yes, the most efficient way to enter an orbit is to leave gravity and head towards an orbit, at the same time. (in an arc) Speed (semi-hoizontally) is needed to reach/gain orbital velocity.

The people who don't understand this are not stupid, they just haven't thought about it very much.

So you can agree with them then. It looks horizontal because it is. It has to be to achieve orbit. Maybe with a simple diagram
 

Graham2001

Active Member
What the
So you can agree with them then. It looks horizontal because it is. It has to be to achieve orbit. Maybe with a simple diagram

James Oberg covered exactly this issue in an article about the Sputnik I launch, apparently many people on the ground thought the rocket was going to crash back to Earth when it changed trajectory to allow it to enter orbit, the key point being that at the time, they were more used to missile tests which used a different trajectory.

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/971/1
 
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