After separating from the second stage, how long does it take for the Falcon 9 to come back to Earth? From LEO and from GEO.

Note: this question is similar: How long does it take to recover the first stage of the Falcon 9?

Yet it's not clear the % of time taken for descent. How long to descend from GEO?

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    $\begingroup$ If you mean the first stage, it never goes into orbit at all. But there might be a difference in time depending on where the payload is ultimately headed. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jul 29, 2020 at 16:17
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    $\begingroup$ "How long to descend from GEO?" – Infinitely, since it cannot get to GEO. (If it could, there would be no need for a second stage, after all.) $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 7:23

1 Answer 1


It will vary somewhat mission-to-mission, but it's generally about 6 minutes from separation to first-stage touchdown. It's not very different between LEO and GEO missions, as the first stage only gets to around 1/4 of orbital speed.

Here's the timeline for ANASIS-II, a GEO-bound launch. Stage separation is at T+2:36 and first-stage touchdown is at T+8:31.

A timeline for an LEO-bound Starlink launch has separation at T+2:36 and touchdown at T+8:42.


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