I'm reading conflicting things on the timing of the pitchover. When exactly does it start?

Many people write that it's almost immediately after launch, as soon as it's practical. Once the rocket clears the launch tower, say.

Others write that it's much later. The Kerbal Space Program is just a game, but it seems common wisdom there to start your gravity turn at 10 km of altitude. Start higher, and you lose fuel to gravity losses. Start lower and you lose fuel to air drag.

I'm specifically curious about the Falcon 9 rockets. Sure, every mission is different, but at least on average, when is pitchover done? Even better than pitchover start time would be the altitude at which it is done.


  • $\begingroup$ Some launchers even start angled ad the launch pad. $\endgroup$ Dec 16, 2020 at 20:27
  • $\begingroup$ For Saturn V it's in the graph from your previous question space.stackexchange.com/q/49141/6944 $\endgroup$ Dec 16, 2020 at 20:31
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Too lazy to write an answer, but Flight Club does educated-guess simulations of launches including Falcon 9, and generates many data plots. The "Elevation" plot is what you're looking for; it shows a 2-degree pitchover at T+15 seconds for this particular mission and a more significant turn beginning at T+25 seconds. $\endgroup$ Dec 16, 2020 at 20:52
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    $\begingroup$ @RussellBorogove, any idea how they got the drag coefficient plot? This would be useful to me, but I'm wondering if I can trust. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – user36480
    Dec 16, 2020 at 21:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ No idea, but Flight Club creator @DeclanMurphy occasionally appears here. $\endgroup$ Dec 16, 2020 at 21:35


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