Can someone please correct me on the orientation of the Falcon 9 rocket as it sits on launchpad 39A at Kennedy? Looking at the image below, which way should X (red), Y (green), and Z (blue) face? I just realized I probably got my axes all wrong all along. Thanks!

enter image description here

Below is an (older bust still useful) image of Falcon 9 on the strongback in the context of the launchpad, if it helps. The Falcon manual says +Z faces away from the strongback, and I hear that the launch tower would be north of the rocket, meaning the roll axis would be up, the pitch axis would be toward you (south), and the yaw axis would point to your right (east). This would give a right-handed coordinate frame. Does this seem right? enter image description here


From the 2020 Falcon 9's user manual:

"Falcon vehicles use a right-hand X-Y-Z coordinate frame centered 440.69 cm (173.5 in.) aft of the first-stage radial engine gimbal, with +X aligned with the vehicle long axis and +Z opposite the transporter-erector strongback (Figure 2-4).

X is the roll axis, Y is the pitch axis, and Z is the yaw axis. Additional coordinate frames may be defined with reference to the payload interface (Section 5.1.1) for specific missions."

This should help clarify what I mean by roll, pitch, and yaw axes if the terms seem confusing. They're actually fairly standard in the field, I've found from the papers I've read.

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Roll axis: Axis about which roll occurs. Pitch axis: Axis about which pitch occurs. Yaw axis: Axis about which yaw occurs. [Roll, Pitch, Yaw] axes = [X, Y, Z] axes. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – user36480 Jan 8 at 21:17
  • $\begingroup$ I've changed the first image to reflect what I now think are the correct axis orientations. Big thank you to Russel for his comments which made me realize my mistake! I don't know yet that I got my axes right, but at least I know I had them wrong. I do not want to get them wrong. $\endgroup$ – user36480 Jan 8 at 22:13
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    $\begingroup$ Sounds like you found your answer and have a great reference, good job. It's perfectly ok to answer your own question, and doing that fits the stack exchange format better than putting the answer in your question. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jan 8 at 22:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Alex please do write your findings down in an answer to your own question! $\endgroup$ – Anton Hengst Jan 9 at 4:35

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