Colloquially referred to as one of the hardest professions, rocket science is actually a common name for spacecraft/space-systems engineering. However, one can also generalize this to include all forms of rocketry, including rockets that are not capable of space travel.

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How long would it take me to travel to a distant star?

Suppose I wanted to travel to one of the recently discovered potentially Earth-like planets such as Kepler 186f that is 490 light years away. Assuming I had a powerful rocket and enough fuel, how long ...
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6answers
2k views

Why are rockets so big?

I'm curious why rockets are so big in their size. Since both the gravitational potential one need to overcome in order to put thing into orbit, and the chemical energy burned from the fuel, are ...
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276 views

Travel duration from Earth to a star at 9.8 m/s² acceleration

How much time would it take for a traveler (in traveler's perspective) to reach a star at distance $d$, if it accelerates at 9.8 m/s² (for a comfortable travel)? I understand that $V = V_0 + a\times ...
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848 views

NASA's “Impossible” Space Engine

Recently, there was some news that said that the researchers at NASA have come across some impossible kind of space engine which does not require any fuel. I have read at a few places like here, here ...
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What is the possibility of a railgun assisted orbital launch?

Basic facts: The world's deepest mine is 2.4 miles deep. Railguns can acheive a muzzle velocity of a projectile on the order of 7.5 km/s. The Earth's escape velocity is 11.2 km/s. It seems to me ...
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Why do rockets have multiple stages?

What is the advantage for rockets to have multiple stages? Wouldn't a single stage with the same amount of fuel weigh less? Note I would like a quantitative answer, if possible :-)
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2answers
404 views

Rocket propelled by a giant monochromatic laser

I am preparing for my quals and stumbled across the following problem, and although it only requires undergraduate-level physics, I feel I can't piece everything together. "A rocket of mass $m_0$ is ...
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10answers
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Why do space crafts take off with rockets instead of just ascending like an aircraft until they reach space?

I guess it's not a very educated question, but I never quite understood why spacecrafts have to shoot up and can't just reach space by simply continuing an upwards ascent like an airplane.
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3answers
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How does $F = \frac{ \Delta (mv)}{ \Delta t}$ equal $( m \frac { \Delta v}{ \Delta t} ) + ( v \frac { \Delta m}{ \Delta t} )$?

That's how it's framed in my Physics school-book. The question (or rather, the explanation) is that of the thrust of rockets and how the impulse is equal (with opposite signs) on the thrust-gases and ...
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What are the most realistic ways of high speed space propulsion?

Liquid and solid chemical fuels in rockets are very expensive and inefficient. I have heard of solar sails but what are the most realistic space travel fuels that will be used in the future to get ...
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2answers
2k views

Difference between deltaV and specific impulse

When reading any literature regarding space propulsion, I keep getting about these terms deltaV and ISP or specific impulse. I know specific impulse is supposed to be the velocity the propellant mass ...
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1answer
171 views

Sideways motion between a vertical launch from a planet and landing [duplicate]

I saw a video some days ago (Hello Kitty in Space) of a schoolgirl successfully launching a balloon into space which later popped and landed ~47 km from launch site. If I vertically launch an object ...
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How long does it take to travel 36 light years with tolerable acceleration and deceleration?

The recent discovery of HD85512b only 36 light years from Earth has promising attributes to harbor life. Assuming we want to travel there, we cannot instantaneously jump to light speed, (StarTrek ...
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5answers
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Maximum speed of a rocket with a potential of relativistic speeds

Ultimately, the factor limiting the maximum speed of a rocket is: the amount of fuel it carries the speed of ejection of the gases the mass of the rocket the length of the rocket ...
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3answers
363 views

What sort of propulsion would we require for interstellar travel?

Further to this question I asked recently, lgritz makes a very astute observation about the massive fuel requirements to travel 36 lt yrs with known fuel technology today. So, if conventional rocket ...
5
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2answers
916 views

Why do rockets jettison fuel tanks? [duplicate]

I'm trying to understand why rockets have multistages releasing their fuel tanks. Say a rocket $R$ has two fuel tanks $A$ and $B$, which respectively have masses $m_a$ and $m_b$, and the mass of the ...
3
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1answer
353 views

Nuclear Salt Water Rockets: viability and follow-up

This is the original paper by R. Zubrin proposing the Nuclear Salt Water Rocket design. Basically the design is that a capillar set of pipes store a uranium salt-water solution, inside a cadmium ...
3
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1answer
395 views

How do I calculate the time it would take for a space craft launching from earth to reach another planet?

I am making a matlab program the my final project for my programming class in college. I have chosen this problem, but I am bashing my head against the wall trying to figure out the equations and how ...
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4answers
151 views

Why is $M\frac{dv}{dt} = v_{rel} .\frac{dm}{dt}$ correct and $(M - dm)\frac{dv}{dt} = v_{rel} .\frac{dm}{dt}$ wrong?

Newton's 2nd law of motion can't be applied for mass-varying systems. Another force, known as Thrust must come to play. It can be measured using law of conservation of linear momentum. ...
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4answers
145 views

Best EM/Photon rocket using avalable tech?

Given 10-1000 Watts of electrical power (and no other consumables), what is the current best way to turn it into thrust? Just running it through a heater on an insulating pad would result in an IR ...
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7answers
812 views

What happens when the spacecraft velocity equals the velocity at it's exhaust?

So there I was resting me eyes thinking about rocket drives, and what-not. The thought struck me that, perhaps, even before Mr. Einstein interferes with the increasing velocity of the spacecraft Mr. ...
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2answers
541 views

How much thrust would be needed to turn a hobbyist weather balloon into a deep space probe?

I was reading the article Weather Balloon Space Probes that says you can put your own balloon probe at 65,000 ft temporarily. Is it even remotely possible to raise the probe high enough using ...
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4answers
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Why are there more vertical takeoff than horizontal for spacecrafts?

Vertical takeoff requires disposable rockets (would it a satellite rocket), which is a money loss, and also a lot of fuel, because initial velocity is zero. Also vertical takeoff seems risky, involves ...
4
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2answers
805 views

At what fraction of the speed of light have people traveled?

I'm guessing that, this would be someone in a rocket or something... When they hit their top speed, at what fraction of $c$ are they traveling?
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3answers
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Escape velocity of satellites

I know that the equation for it is $$v^2 = \frac{2GM}{r},$$ and with that, the rocket should be launched at that speed. But could it go much slower spending much more fuel to escape from gravity ...
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Can we escape Earth's gravity slowly?

I had a recent conversation with my girlfriend, who is a physics grad student. She was kind enough to listen to me rant about an idea concerning escape velocity. Unfortunately, I am still thinking ...
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217 views

Will a relativistic rocket be destroyed by incident photons?

I have read, that as a rocket approaches light speed, objects in front of it become blue shifted and also intensity of light increases. Does this mean that at some point any rocket will be destroyed, ...
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2answers
399 views

Rocket/Thrust/Gas/Free Expansion of Gas

We know, the rockets in space use Newton's 3rd law to increase their velocity and hence move. What I don't understand is how it is possible in space aka vacuum-state without air? From what I know, ...
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0answers
39 views

Is it possible to build a huge spaceship like the one of of Star Trek or Prometheus?

Ok, so theoretically, is it possible to build a spaceship like the ones we see off of Star Trek or Prometheus or will physics not allow it? What are some challenge faces such an task. Also, is there ...
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2answers
190 views

Get into orbit from the Redbull jump position to a satellite position by using a cord/rope?

Its difficult to put this into the title. I was watching the Redbull Jump and noticed that the height of this is at 39 kilometres (24 mi) the atmosphere pressure is at I believe about 0.4% of that at ...
0
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1answer
131 views

Understanding of the $m v^2/2$ formula for kinetic energy

I have some problem to intuitively understand why the kinetic energy grows quadratically with the velocity (at least in non-relativistic case). Assume the following experiment: we launch an unmanned ...
0
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1answer
348 views

What path would advanced spaceships take to move between planets? [closed]

Right now, space travel is all about carefully moving between orbits. If you want to go from Earth to Mars, you wait until the two planets are correctly aligned, and then place yourself into an ...