Astronautics: The Physics of Space Flight

By Britteny Backus

Faculty Mentor: Professor Varun Makhija

Over the course of the semester, my professor and I have collected notes and did research on the book: Astronautics, The Physics of Space Flight. In general, I learned how to apply Newtons laws and the Laws of Thermodynamics to the physics of rockets. Taking simple equations such as, thrust force and the equation of rocket motion and applying them to abstract and complex situations to determine the ideal space flight path of a spacecraft. In this talk I will explain some fundamental concepts. More specifically I will discuss how the speed of gas exhausted from the rear of the rocket increases its forward momentum. In addition, I will discuss some of the details associated with achieving a high rocket speed. Many of the equations used are too complex to solve by hand and therefore a computer software is needed to find the solutions of these problems. However, these equations tell us how to make a rocket go fast and how to direct the energy for an ideal rocket launch.