# Can I launch an object into orbit using only a cannon?

My friends and I were reminiscing about our intro physics classes and decided to revisit an old problem were we were required to calculate the orbital velocity of a cannonball fired from 1 meter above an airless earth.

We extended this problem to a debate about whether this same hypervelocity cannon on Earth can launch an object into a stable orbit above the atmosphere without any additional propellant in the object itself. So far, we haven't found a solution, but we are looking at the possibility of atmospheric skipping or using the gravitational influence of the moon to adjust our object's trajectory.

Is it possible for our hypothetical cannon to launch something into a stable orbit around the Earth from Earth's surface without any additional thrust?

• Short answer, no. The good old atmosphere would incinerate your object. If it didn't, you'd probably hit a surface feature. If you didn't, drag would degrade your orbit to the point where the return trip would hit the surface. Simply put, no.
– Jim
May 20, 2015 at 15:53
• See the calculations in answer to this earlier question - not an exact duplicate, but close May 20, 2015 at 15:56