The Physics
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Acceleration of a Manned Rocket

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Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Cutnell, John D. & Kenneth W. Johnson. Physics: Third Edition. New York: Wiley. 1995. "A rocket is launched with an acceleration of 20 m/s2" 20 m/s2
Vawter, Richard. Typical Values of Acceleration. Izmir Institute of Technology. "Space Shuttle (takeoff): 29 m/s2" 29 m/s2
Saturn V. Rockets by Family. Encyclopedia Astronautica. "Thrust (Liftoff): 3,440,310 kgf
Total Mass: 2,504,020 kg"
3.7 m/s2
Shuttle. Rockets by Family. Encyclopedia Astronautica. "Thrust (Liftoff): 2,625,932 kgf
Total Mass: 2,290,633 kg"
1.4 m/s2

Rockets are types of engines that are able to produce extremely high amounts of power for their size. In fact, some rockets can produce 3,000 times more power than an automobile engine of the same size. It is because of this that NASA uses rockets to send satellites and manned missions into space. Though there are many types of rockets, the rockets used in sending manned missions into space are the most important rockets for this research.

In my research I had to find the acceleration of an manned rocket at takeoff. I research the acceleration of the space shuttle for all of the necessary categories except the "old" source because the space shuttle was not used before 1980. For my "old"source I used the Saturn V rocket which was used in sending most of the Apollo missions to the moon. In my research I found the acceleration of the space shuttle to be approximately 20 m/s2 and the more massive Saturn V to have an acceleration slightly lower at 11.7 m/s2.

For the last two sources, I found the liftoff thrust and mass of the rockets and used Newton's Second Law of Motion to find the acceleration. Since F = ma. (F being net force, m being mass and a being acceleration) I was able to rearrange the formula to be a = F/m. The force was the liftoff thrust minus the weight and the mass used was the mass of the rocket. These values are lower than the others because they are calculated at liftoff when the mass of the rocket is the greatest.


Jeffrey Anthony -- 2000

Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Shuttle Reference Manual: Mission Events Summary: Second Stage. NASA. "Guidance also governs the main engine throttle command so that acceleration does not exceed 3 g's…. The main engines are throttled down at approximately seven minutes 40 seconds into the mission to maintain 3 g's for physiological and structural constraints." 29.4 m/s2
Shuttle Reference Manual: Space Transportation System: Space Shuttle Requirements. NASA. "The crew compartment has a shirtsleeve environment, and the acceleration load is never greater than 3 Gs." 29.4 m/s2

Editor's Supplement -- 2000