Every time we see a rocket launch, its trajectory is always curved, never straight up. Why would they do that? Aren’t they supposed to go up to space?
No, it is not because they have malicious intentions, as implied by a lot of flat-Earthers.
The curved trajectory is what we call the ‘gravity turn’.
After reaching space, the most efficient motion for a spacecraft is to orbit the Earth. By orbiting the Earth, a spacecraft can remain up there for a very long time without spending any energy.
Based on simulation, an object of 100 kg with cross-sectional area of 1 m², if placed on a 300 km orbit, then it will fall down to the Earth only after 46 days, without using any fuel.
Therefore, the main objective of calculating a rocket trajectory is to reach the orbit by spending as little energy as possible. The most efficient way to do this is to initially travel straight up in order to overcome air resistance, and then gradually turning parallel to the Earth’s surface and go into orbit.
After reaching the orbit, the thrusters can be shut off, and the rocket will remain in orbit for a very long time.
If the rocket launches straight up, it will reach space faster with less energy. But it won’t have the required velocity in order to orbit. The rocket will have to continuously spend energy only to remain up there. Once ran out of fuel, the rocket will fall back to the Earth very fast.
It’s not a rocket science.
- Satellite Orbital Decay Calculation
- Gravity Turn – Wikipedia
- Why Do Rockets Follow a Curved Trajectory While Going Into Space? – ScienceABC
- Why do rockets that are sent into space have an angled trajectory instead of going straight up? – Reddit
- Why do rockets, including the space shuttle, arc as they aquire altitude? – Quora