Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • How Do We Launch Things into Space?

  • You've probably seen beautiful photos of Earth and other planets in our solar system.

  • Those photos were often captured by spacecraftrobotic explorers doing their work far

  • away from Earth.

  • But how exactly do we send these spacecraft so far away?

  • Well, it all starts with a rocket.

  • A really, really big one.

  • Why rockets?

  • A spacecraftand basically everything else on Earthis held down by Earth's

  • gravity.

  • However, a rocket burns fuelcalled propellantto push away from Earth and against gravity.

  • This creates a force called thrust.

  • A rocket needs enough fueland thrustto speed up to at least 17,800 miles per

  • hour.

  • That's how fast you have to get going to fly above most of Earth's atmosphere and

  • stay in orbit.

  • Next, the rocket will release the spacecraft.

  • But when that happens depends on where you're going.

  • A spacecraft that orbits Earth is sometimes called a satellite.

  • A satellite is released from a rocket at a specific distance from Earth.

  • There, it keeps going around Earth in a circular pathan orbit.

  • This happens because there is a balance between the energy the satellite picked up from the

  • rocketcalled momentumand the pull of Earth's gravity.

  • The balance of these two forces can keep a satellite in orbit for many years!

  • But what happens if you want to go farther than Earth?

  • If you're trying to get to another planet, you'll need a fast rocket to overcome Earth's

  • gravity.

  • And you'll still need to release the spacecraft from the rocket.

  • But you'll also need to figure out the best time to leave Earth to get to that planet.

  • Take Mars, for example.

  • Every two years or so, Mars and Earth are closest together.

  • This is the best time to go to Mars, since it will require the least amount of fuel and

  • time to get there.

  • And if you want to explore even farther planets like Saturn,

  • plan carefully!

  • For example, will your spacecraft want to encounter Mars or Jupiter on its way to Saturn?

  • But don't worry, all the planning is worth it when you end up with a view like this one.

  • Find out more about our solar system at NASA Space Place.

How Do We Launch Things into Space?

Subtitles and vocabulary

Click the word to look it up Click the word to find further inforamtion about it