Rockets 03

OPENING QUESTION: What are three substantial dangers in launching humans into space?

LEARNING GOAL FOR TODAY: I will be able to identify three launch vehicles for launching human beings into space after today's class.


  • Newton's 3rd Law: Action/Reaction
  • Newton's 2nd Law: F = ma



Let's take another (better) look at the Apollo 11 launch vehicle-- better known as the truly awesome Saturn V Rocket:


Let's take a few moments to review these fuel specs...

Now let's do some quick mathematics:

Take a look at how much thrust the Saturn V puts out:

That particular diagram makes a bit of a boo-boo when it relates thrust in terms of kg.

Apparently that particular author took the thrust in POUNDS (which is the English Units value for force) and then converted that to kilograms by dividing by 2.2 pounds per kilogram, which is a bit of slight of hand and not particularly appropriate.

So, let's get force BACK into Newtons by multiplying that value by 'g' (or 10 m/s/s) which gives us a force of 34 MILLION Newtons of thrust.

Take a moment and suggest just how much acceleration you would experience if you personally were to experience that much force (HINT: you'll have to use your mass in kilograms. If you aren't comfortable doing that, use 50 kg (about 110 lbs), 75 kg (about 165 lbs), or 100 kg (about 220 lbs)

Now take a moment to do a bit of research into how much MASS the Saturn V actually sent to the moon (break that down by component)

Find out how much it cost to do ONE Apollo 11 - 16 launch

  • Calculate the cost per pound to do that launch
  • What were the dangers inherent to that launch process


Now let's consider the Space Shuttle Program:

The cost for putting just 1 pound of material in orbit: ~ $25,000 pounds (apparently early estimates had projected costs as low as a few hundred dollars per pound

Please take a look at that article

Now let's take a look at the entire space shuttle assembly:

Now let's take a look at Orion:

Now let's do a compare/contrast sorta thing between the Saturn V and the Space Shuttle and Orion