# Falcon 9 Merlin 1d thrust calculated through every moment of flight

I am currently trying to recreate the launch of falcon 9 in unity. For the calculations I need the thrust of the first stage (only doing it for one stage for now).

How to calculate it depending on the altitude? From values I have only ones from SpaceX (at sea level and in vacuum), but I need values at every moment of the flight. Any suggestions?

I am doing a simple 2d simulation, where rocket just is launched directly upwards.

• See here space.stackexchange.com/a/43845/6944 and the links in it. – Organic Marble Sep 14 '20 at 16:59
• But I mean, how to get values in any moment of flight? For calculations i need a column for thrust changes, thru all the flight. Any suggestions on that? – mad.redhead Sep 14 '20 at 17:16
• Did you see the graph of thrust vs altitude in the answer I linked? You need to generate that graph for your vehicle. The link in it gives you the equation you need. – Organic Marble Sep 14 '20 at 17:18
• Oh, I will try... god im feeling so happy I finally figured that thing out! Big thanks again! :) – mad.redhead Sep 14 '20 at 17:28
• You're welcome and welcome to space stack exchange. – Organic Marble Sep 14 '20 at 17:29

I'm going to bang this out in English units because that's what I have a feel for and so am less likely to make an embarrassing mistake.

Let's use the thrust equation for non-airbreathing engines, copied from here From the General Thrust Equation towards Tsiolkovsky, how to explain dropping these terms along the way?

## $$\ \ \ F = \dot{m}_\mathrm e V_\mathrm e + (p_\mathrm e - p_0) A_\mathrm e$$

The first term to the right of the = is the momentum thrust. It's constant for a given throttle setting for what we are doing here.

You give

• Fv = 1,849,500 lbf
• Fs = 1,710,000 lbf

We can solve for the exit plane area by filling in what we know in the two equations and subtracting one from the other. That gives us an exit plane area (for all nine engines) of 66 ft^2.

An (unsourced) answer to this question Temperature and pressure of rocket exhaust gives the Merlin exit plane pressure as 0.7 atm.

Now we can calculate the momentum thrust term $$\dot{m}_\mathrm e V_\mathrm e$$ to be 1,751,703 lbf.

Quick sanity check: the momentum thrust you calculate should be bigger than the sea level thrust and less than the vacuum thrust.

With that and a handy-dandy atmosphere table we have all we need.

I rounded off everything so the numbers don't match exactly. Just walk through what I did, using your units of choice. Then in your program use the momentum thrust, exit plane pressure, and exit plane area that you calculated in the thrust equation, and plug in an ambient pressure that you got by your method of choice.

Altitude   Ambient Pressure   Thrust
0 ft       2117 lbf/ft^2     1,709,793 lbf
50K ft      241 lbf/ft^2      1,833,609 lbf
100K ft       23 lbf/ft^2      1,847,997 lbf
infinity       0 lbf/ft^2      1,849,515 lbf
and beyond


Plot of thrust (lbf) vs altitude (ft)

• omg dude...you soo helped me out. Oh god thank you!!! – mad.redhead Sep 15 '20 at 22:57
• Thank you Thank you Thank you!! I feel so ashamed I havent figured it out by myself... – mad.redhead Sep 15 '20 at 23:00
• And by the way, I have still one question here. How did you get the exit plane area for all engines equal to 66 ft^2? Using the equation F(vacuum) - F(sea level) = p0*Ae I got Ae equal to 6.119 m^2, Which is far less than yours Ae.Also, if we look at the numbers, we can see that falcon 9`s cross-sectional area is +- 42 m^2 - far MORE than mine Ae, but less than yours. Am I missing something in equation? – mad.redhead Sep 19 '20 at 18:55