My sister, Mattea, my dad, and I have joined an edX course called 16.00 X. We learn basic principles of rockets in this class. It is taught by MIT Professor Jeffrey Hoffman. I am learning how solid and liquid rocket engines work, along with reasons for multi-stage rockets.
Solid rocket engines consist of fuel, in solid form, as well as an oxidizer, also in solid form. a hollow tube down the middle allows fire to burn through and ignite the fuel.
Liquid engines work a bit differently, though. and when I say a bit, I mean a lot. liquid fuel and oxidizer are kept in tanks and are pumped (by pumps, because there is no gravity) into the combustion chamber to burn. because liquid engines use pumps they can be turned of at will, whereas in solid engines, it just keeps burning fuel and oxidizer until it runs out. on the Space Shuttle, NASA used liquid and solid to lift off, and used liquid one in the air.
Some people think it’s a waste of weight on a rocket to have multiple stages, as it adds the weight of the extra container. NASA’s smart, though. The reason for having multiple, small rockets attached to the Space Shuttle and other space exploration craft, is that once fuel burns out of one, they can drop the container back to Earth for reuse, and continue on using other stages (rockets).
Before I go, fun fact… or maybe quite depressing, to be in outer space, you only need to be 100 km high to be in “space”! I am really looking forward to the next lessons in 16.00 X.