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.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

38
votes
1answer
14k views

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 ...
36
votes
6answers
4k 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
615 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 ...
11
votes
8answers
7k views

What is a rocket engine thrusting against in space?

I know Newton's third law of motion might be the answer for this but still I am wondering how the rockets could thrust in the empty space and move in the opposite direction. I guess an astronaut ...
22
votes
10answers
7k views

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.
29
votes
2answers
14k views

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 ...
3
votes
2answers
769 views

Variable mass dynamics: Particle and Rigid Body

I'm encountering some issues in the understanding of some basic concepts about the dynamics of variable-mass particles and rigid bodies. For what I found, for example reading On the use and abuse of ...
3
votes
2answers
1k 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, ...
89
votes
6answers
10k views

Could we send a man safely to the Moon in a rocket without knowledge of general relativity?

I'm wondering if it's possible to send a man to the Moon using equations consistent with Newtonian gravity and without the elaborate tools of Einstein gravity. Are the predictions made by Newtonian ...
12
votes
5answers
7k views

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 :-)
6
votes
3answers
1k views

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 ...
4
votes
2answers
698 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
119 views

What will I see if I travelled to a distant planet in 100 times faster than speed of light and look back? [closed]

Consider this scenario. I enter a space ship at 10:00 AM, it starts to move at a speed 100 times faster than light, I travel for 55 mins. And then slow down to very much less than speed of light and ...
4
votes
2answers
758 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 ...
6
votes
6answers
2k views

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 ...
5
votes
5answers
4k views

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 ...
2
votes
2answers
142 views

How to find a condition that ensures that the rocket immediately takes off?

For the rocket in a constant gravitational field, how to find a condition that ensures that the rocket immediately takes off? Update: I apologize. Let's try again. So my question: For the rocket in ...
1
vote
2answers
4k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
404 views

Water bottle rocket: Where does the energy go without water?

In Portland's OMSI there is a hands-on water bottle rocket station. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdtmVY76_PQ). The rockets are normal PET bottlers. The visitors fill their bottle with an amount of ...
3
votes
3answers
978 views

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 ...
2
votes
1answer
241 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
465 views

Rocket drive and conservation of momentum

I am currently reading through some lecture notes of Physics 1 and in a chapter about the dynamics of the mass point, there is an example covering the rocket drive. Let $v$ be the velocity of the ...
1
vote
2answers
607 views

How does a rocket's exhaust gas' momentum propel a rocket?

During the launch of a rocket into space, the exhaust gases from the engine possess momentum. Outline, with the help of an equation, how this causes the rocket to be propelled upwards. Can ...
0
votes
2answers
668 views

Rocket Altitude Calculation

Assignment Basic data I was launching a rocket model and I tried to calculate the reached altitude. The engine (C6-0) impulse is 10 Ns Total weight is 65,7 g (includes the engine) I calculated ...
0
votes
4answers
283 views

Which is the right explanation for rocket motion? [duplicate]

What actually causes a rocket to move? Is it the pressure in the rocket engine or the amount and velocity of mass that is being ejected out. The reason I am asking is, I found these two explanations ...
21
votes
3answers
15k views

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 ...
7
votes
5answers
4k views

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 ...
5
votes
3answers
467 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 ...
18
votes
6answers
5k views

Halley's Comet as a “Free Taxi”

Now that the ESA has landed a probe on a comet, namely Rosetta's Philae Probe, could we possibly land a probe on Halley's comet? Fuel seems to be a limiting factor for interstellar expeditions - could ...
4
votes
1answer
458 views

How does fire create thrust in rocket?

All big rockets are burning either gas or fluid to create thrust. While this is so, I have filled up a plastic bottle with air at high pressure, and it can go long distances by blowing the pressurised ...
4
votes
1answer
486 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
5
votes
5answers
5k views

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 ...
5
votes
2answers
1k 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?
5
votes
3answers
692 views

Rocket launch from a mountain

If we were to build a high speed rail up the side of a mountain like in some Science Fiction movies, what is the velocity needed at the point of leaving the mountain excluding angular momentum from ...
3
votes
1answer
617 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 ...
1
vote
4answers
203 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. ...
0
votes
2answers
306 views

Can a nozzle increase the thrust of a water rocket?

First of all, what is the correct equation to determine the thrust produced by a water rocket? $$ F_T = \dot{m} V_e \tag{1} $$ $$ F_T = \dot{m} V_e + (p_e - p_0)A_e \tag{2} $$ Using the first ...
0
votes
4answers
173 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 ...
7
votes
7answers
2k 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. ...
4
votes
1answer
262 views

Is the fuel burn for a satellite launch affected by the position of the moon relative to the launch site?

The gross mass of a satellite rocket is tiny compared to that of Earth, and Luna. Between them, however, the two bodies set up tides in bodies of water which itself is again considerable mass. At ...
3
votes
2answers
414 views

How could a solar sail be powered 'Upwind' by craft's own (laser) light source?

I've just watched a Discovery Science program - Alien Encounters featuring SETI luminaries such as Jill Tarter, Frank Drake and Nick Sagan. A serious discussion on how to interpret ET messages coupled ...
3
votes
1answer
254 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, ...
3
votes
3answers
808 views

Conservation of Energy in Different Frames of Reference

Say I have a bucket of fuel that can produce 150J of energy by combustion. No matter what frame of reference an observer or the bucket of fuel is in, since the configuration of molecules stay the ...
2
votes
2answers
228 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
272 views

Would the rotation of a space ship in vacuum slow it down

Firstly , a few disclaimers : English is not my native language so I may use the wrong technical terms. Please notify me and I will correct the question. As a CS major , I've only taken one class ...
2
votes
2answers
470 views

Break speed of light with infinite mass

I've heard that a spacecraft could never exceed the speed of light because it's (relativistic) mass quickly approaches infinity and therefore there could never create a big enough rocket to propel it ...
1
vote
2answers
476 views

Velocity of Rocket Exhaust

i recently learned a bit of rocket propulsion.It wasn't much complex but was explained in simple terms.The only problem i had understanding it was that in calculating the thrust of rocket the velocity ...
1
vote
0answers
157 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 ...