Do you really need a rocket to go to space?

Do you really need a rocket to go to space?

Get yourself a rocket. Nothing else has ever been created that can unleash such massive quantities of energy in such a controlled manner to propel you into orbit. It all boils down to speed. You are currently standing stationary on Earth. To be in orbit, you must be moving at over 7 kilometers per second (43,000 miles per hour). That's fast! Even if you were to run all the way up to Mount Everest (29,029 feet) you would only reach 0.6 km/s.

Nowadays, rockets are usually divided into two main types: liquid fuel and solid fuel. The Russian language even has a special word for this difference: raketnyj means "fueled by rockets". Other languages have similar words. In English, we call liquid-fueled rockets "liquid-propellant rockets" or simply "liquid rockets", and solid-fueled rockets "solid-propellant rockets" or simply "solid rockets".

Liquid rockets are still used today for space missions where weight is important because they can carry more fuel than their solid counterparts. For example, the Apollo spacecraft used liquid rockets to send men to the Moon from 1969 to 1972. The fuel was alcohol and it produced about 190,000 pounds of thrust. That's enough power to lift nearly 5 million pounds!

How much energy does it take to launch a rocket into space?

The speed required to sustain an orbit near the Earth's surface translates to a sideways speed of around 7.8 km/s (17,400 mph), corresponding to an energy of approximately 30MJ/kg. A chemical rocket burns fuel with some efficiency, so to reach this energy level it would need to carry about 300 kg of fuel.

A satellite in low-Earth orbit (LEO) travels at about 3,000 km/hr or 5% the speed of light. It takes about 70 MJ/kg to do this. A typical battery has a maximum energy density of 150 WL2/kg and can store only a few hundred joules of energy so they must be recharged after each use. This is not a problem for LEO satellites which are generally active for only a few years before being replaced, but it is a concern for those operating closer to the ground who must recharge their batteries from some external source.

Modern rockets use solid fuel instead of liquid fuels for its greater stability and reliability. The Space Shuttle used solid fuel boosters which were assembled into the back of the vehicle right up until its final flight in 2011. These were made of aluminum alloy and strengthened with carbon fibers to resist the heat from the burning fuel which could damage any other material that was being used in the shuttle.

How are we going to get to space without a rocket?

However, every extant spaceplane has had a rocket boost before flying under its own power. A solo spaceship would be an airplane that could utilize a jet engine to travel to the top of the atmosphere, then switch to a rocket engine once the air became too thin for jets to function. Balloons are another possibility. You fill a balloon with hydrogen gas and it will go up; add oxygen and it will come down.

The problem with all these methods is that they're inefficient: it takes a lot of energy to lift something into orbit or beyond. The only way to do it quickly and easily is with a rocket.

And so the quest for a practical single-person spaceship began. The first spaceships were actually modified military aircraft designed to carry out reconnaissance missions. The Russians developed their own version called the Vostok that was used from 1963 to 1971. It was capable of reaching heights of about 56,000 feet while traveling at more than 600 miles per hour. The United States also had its own reconnaissance ship named the U-2 which was developed by Lockheed in 1955. It was later improved upon by Boeing and now operates today as the RQ-170 Sentinel.

These are the two main types of spaceships that have been developed thus far. The Russians also created a third type of spacecraft called a reentry vehicle that carries out detailed studies of the Earth's atmosphere after it returns from a mission.

About Article Author

Jefferey Pack

Jefferey Pack is an expert in the field of education. He has experience in both public school teaching as well as private tutoring. Jefferey enjoys helping others, whether it be with their studies or just by being there for them when they need it most.

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