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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Why do rocket engines have a throat?

Diagrams of rocket engines like this one, (source) always seem to show a combustion chamber with a throat, followed by a nozzle. Why is there a throat? Wouldn't the thrust be the same if the ...
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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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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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Why does it take so long to get to the ISS?

I don't understand why when first launched Space X's Dragon capsule had to orbit the Earth many times in order to match up with the ISS? Was this purely to match it's speed, or to get closer (as in ...
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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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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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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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Why don't rockets tip over when they launch?

Rockets separate from the launch pad and supporting structures very early in flight. It seems like they should tip over once that happens. Why don't they tip over? Is it due to a well designed ...
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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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Why are spacecraft made to “spin” after launch?

At some point after launch, usually just before or after separation from the last booster stage, spacecraft are often made to "spin" (about the axis of their trajectory)? See e.g this You Tube video. ...
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How Earth communicates with Voyager I?

After taking a basic signals & systems class and learning about the frequency domain, I started wondering: How the heck do scientists still communicate with Voyagers I and II??   Do they ...
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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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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 ...
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What is lighting up Space Shuttle Endeavour's main engines?

Al Jazeera has a terrific collection of Space Shuttle photos. In photo #11 we can see something bright in each Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) as Endeavour lands. What might that be? A reflection off ...
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186 views

What is the optimal burn direction to lower periapsis of hyperbolic orbit?

I am an engineering student who is interested in orbital mechanics. I am doing some self study before taking some orbital mechanics courses next year. I was learning about various orbit types ...
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288 views

Why is there a space between the flame and the nozzle on the space shuttle?

Why is there some space between the flame and the nozzle on the space shuttle? (see above picture)
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How should I throttle my rocket to reach highest altitude? [closed]

"Real world" problem. Suppose we want to launch a rocket equipped with an engine which can be throttled as we prefer. Suppose also that the amount of fuel burnt per time is directly proportional ...
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How much Bicarbonate of Soda and Vinegar would I need to reach space?

So here is my problem - as part of my job I present some science demonstrations to children and one of the tricks I regularly use is the bicarb/acetic acid rocket. I thought the other day that a ...
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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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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 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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The most distant point from the earth that a space shuttle has reached

What is the most distant point from the Earth that a space shuttle has reached? When did this happen?
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How do aerospace engineers choose a landing system? (Curiosity rover)

The Sojourner rover with the Mars Pathfinder used a entry, descent, and landing system involving airbags to land on Mars. The Spirit and Opportunity rovers each used more-or-less the same system ...
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Will a rocket produce more thrust if fired in air, rather than vacuum?

I've been in an argument with a friend. He claims that when a rocket engine is fired in air, it get significantly more thrust due to the rocket pushing gas into the atmosphere, and the atmosphere ...
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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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Does lunar module need the same amount of fuel for landing and take off?

Let's assume there is no atmosphere and let's assume there is no change in weight due to fuel consumption, will reactive rocket need the same amount of fuel for landing on a planet as for take off? ...
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Do de Laval nozzles have to be asymmetric?

All pictures of de Laval nozzles I've seen have an hourglass shape where the convergent section is shorter than the divergent section. Is this necessary to attain supersonic exhaust velocities, or ...
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Orbital mechanics and rocketry: Is it ever a good idea to intentionally lower periapsis?

tl;dr: Hohmann Transfer appears to be the optimal way to achieve a circular-to-circular orbit, but is it possible to lower the periapsis in order to achieve a more elliptical orbit with apoapsis at ...
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Movement in outer space via Newton's law of every action has an equal and opposite reaction

What is more effective for travel in outer space ignoring all other factors like air radiation etc. I have a 10 kg bag of rice would I travel faster throwing the whole bag at once or throwing a grain ...
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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 ...
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Is interstellar flight possible in near future in a way that would keep our civilization alive?

Is interstellar flight possible in the near future in a way that would keep our civilization alive? I mean is it practically possible to obtain technology that would enable us to travel to nearby ...
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1answer
279 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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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 ...
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What is the most convenient rocket engine to use exclusively in space?

I mean what parameters should a rocket engine that is used exclusively in space (last stage of a lunar rocket for instance) have?
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Why do rockets need a cosmic ray detector?

I was watching the video Video camera installed on rocket that reaches 121,000 ft., and this rocket has a cosmic ray detector. Why is this needed in a rocket?
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Can the technology behind Particle accelerators can be used for space propulsion?

As I understand, the kinetic energy of the proton beam in a hadron collider is quite large. Can you build a space propulsion system that is based on accelerating a proton bean to relativistic speeds ...
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843 views

Rocket engines: air & vacuum

Could you please help me understand what is the difference between rocket engines designed to work in air (first stage) and vacuum (later stages)?
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546 views

What properties would the ideal material for spacecraft construction possess?

Assuming we develop the capability to send a robot to study Gliese 518, or any of the Earth-like planets discovered in the neighbourhood; the spacecraft would need to travel through the Solar System ...
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Rocket launch from a mountain

If we were to build a high speed rail up the side of a mountain like in some ScFi movies, what is the velocity needed at the point of living the mountain excluding angular momentum from earth’s ...
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1answer
166 views

Variational calculus problem

I've been wondering lately about a problem that comes from, among other places, an old video game "Lunar Lander". In the game there is a spaceship that has a small tank of fuel, and you're supposed to ...
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What causes acceleration of particles in the expansion section of a De Laval nozzle?

A De Laval nozzle has a compression section, where the propellant is compressed (and thereby accelerated) as it moves towards a narrow section (the throat). After the throat, the nozzle widens out ...
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What is the cheapest way to land a grain of sand on the moon? [closed]

I have a payload that is the size and density of a grain of sand. I want to land it intact on the moon, but I am not particular about location beyond that. What is the least expensive way to get it ...
5
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Saturn V F-1 engines and beyond

I read that the F-1 engine from the 1st stage of the Saturn V rocket is the most powerful engine ever created by mankind, delivering ~200 gigawatts of power. Thus, I have got two questions: Will ...
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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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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 ...
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Why do rockets accelerate fastest horizontally?

I've heard that rockets accelerate fastest when travelling horizontally to the ground, not downwards or upwards. Is that true, and why?
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How empty of fuel are spacecraft booster rockets typically?

A recent XKCD What-if article mentions the situation where each additional kilogram of cargo to LEO requires an additional 1. 3 kilograms of fuel, which in turn requires fuel to carry ...
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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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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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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 ...