As I looked at the title of the upcoming ATI course called Rockets and Launch Vehicles, the first question I asked myself was “What is the difference between a rocket and a launch vehicle? With the help of google, I learned that all launch vehicles are rockets, but not all rockets are launch vehicles. A rocket that is powerful enough to send people, satellites, or spacecrafts into space is called a Launch Vehicle. So, those things you would build and shoot into the sky as a kid are rockets, but they are not launch vehicles.
Rockets, including launch vehicles, take off by burning fuel, which produces a gas byproduct. That escaping gas produces the force that creates the thrust to power the rocket upward.
Most launch vehicles need multiple stages to produce enough thrust get a spacecraft into space. These stages usually sit on top of each other, but there also some designs which have the stages parallel to each other; it all depends on the goals of the mission. The first stage, the stage closest to the ground, is usually the largest. Its purpose is to lift the spacecraft above the earth’s atmosphere to a height of about 150,000 feet. The purpose of the second stage, the stage closest to the spacecraft, is to get the spacecraft to achieve orbital velocity. Usually, when a stage has used up all of its fuel, it serves no additional purpose, so it is jettisoned.
The Space Launch System is a launch vehicle getting a lot of attention and a lot of funding today, The SLS is the Launch Vehicle which will be used for the NASA Artemis missions which will first return to the moon, and then explore beyond. The mission of the first Artemis flight, Artemis I, will be to test the SLS launch vehicle using an uncrewed Orion Spacecraft. This launch will be occurring in March 2022.
If you would like to learn more about rockets and launch vehicles, consider taking the upcoming ATI course Rockets and Launch Vehicles. You can read more about this course, and register for it here.
And, as always, you learn about other upcoming ATI courses at the ATI homepage www.aticourses.com