Immediately after separation, the upper stage of Falcon 9 seems to head 30 or so degrees sideways. What causes that? Is it a problem or a feature?

Separation occurs at 4:40 in this video of the Falcon 9 SES-10 launch March 30, 2017. The image below is a frame of it, taken from the first stage about five seconds after separation, showing the upper stage wobbling.

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2 Answers 2


Looking at the exhaust of RCS from the second stage (before ignition), it seems to be exhausting more on one side. In order to rotate. So for me it's on purpose.

It could be a rotation of the second stage to protect the first stage against the exhaust of the second one.


Looking at the video, it seems the first stage is tumbling much more than the second.
You can see the horizon from the second stage cam, the second stage wobbles a bit then straightens out again. The first stage (also in view) rapidly goes sideways.

It could be the first stage was moved to get away from the second stage exhaust. Or the separation event itself resulted in some asymmetric force.


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