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Sunday, March 1, 2020

why rocket take off vertically


view of a rust-colored rocket carrying an n it’s back, spewing giant clouds of smoke and rushing to the sky on its fiery tail is iconic. But considering the last Space Shuttle launch
was back in 2011, is this the last we’ll ever see of such a thing? What’s next? Could an improved shuttle be made that takes off and lands like an airplane? Let’s explore the possibilities. Use your imagination to draw two parallel horizontal lines. Now connect these lines at any point you want,
in two different ways: with a vertical line that goes straight from the bottom line to the top one, and with a diagonal line.Which line is shorter? Of course, the vertical one; it’s the shortest route to connect the top and bottom lines with each other. And that’s also the most basic answer to our question – it’s faster and easier to get into orbit by just going straight up from the ground. The bottom line is the Earth’s surface.

Our planet is a complex hodge-podge of all kinds of matter, which is combined into an impressive mass – almost 6 sextillion tons; that’s like 6,000 billion of billions - a lot of zeros here – just like my middle school math scores. All that mass basically works like a colossal magnet that, besides other significant feats, allows the Earth to maintain one thing we all know and love – the atmosphere. The top line is the limit of the Earth’s atmosphere; anything beyond that is the planetary orbit and outer space.

But the atmosphere itself is also filled with matter. It’s a combination of gas that has its own
density. When a shuttle launched, all the mass of this gas was constantly pushing on it, which caused friction, effectively slowing it down. Going through a vacuum is like cutting through the air, whereas getting through the atmosphere is like going through jelly. Ooh, grape or strawberry? It took a lot of energy and force to get through it, while being pulled back by that giant gravitational magnet called Earth. Airplanes don’t struggle this much with getting through the atmosphere, because they use its density to lift up from the ground
and maintain altitude.

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