Russia's Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft flies after blasting off

Take -Off

  • in-order to escape Earth’s gravity, a spacecraft must be launched a particular velocity (speed and direction).
  • minimum velocity needed for a spacecraft to combat gravity and stay in orbit around the Earth is called the orbital velocity.
  • when a spacecraft reaches 140% of the orbital velocity, it can break free of Earth’s gravity – this is called the escape velocity.
  • the trust (push) that launches a spacecraft comes from powerful rockets called launch vehicles.
  • launch vehicles are divided into sections called stages, which fall away as their task is done.

Launch Vehicles – Stages


  • first stage
    the first stage lifts everything off the ground, so its thrust must be greater than the weight of the launch vehicle plus the spacecraft – falls away a few minutes after take off.
  • second stage
    the second stage is then needed to accelerate  the spacecraft towards space; after the two launch stages fall away.
  • third stages
    the third stage put the spacecraft into orbit, staying in orbit 125 miles above Earth – a spacecraft flies at more than 5 miles per seconds.


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