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When a rocket is sending a spacecraft to another planet, in general, where does it separate from the upper (last) stage of the rocket?

What happens to most of those upper stages? They remain in Earth orbit or in Solar orbit?

I tried to google it but I got nothing relevant

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A rocket placing a space probe on a trajectory to another planet should accelerate the probe to as much speed as possible. So there is no fuel left for the rocket to change the upper stage trajectory. If the probe leaves Earth orbit, the stage does leave it too.

If the probe does some course correction burns later, the trajectories of probe and stage will separate.

If the probe does not use the total payload mass and speed capacity of the rocket, a final burn after payload separation is possible to select another trajectory for the stage.

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  • $\begingroup$ And then most of them are in solar orbit, interesting. Now I wonder which one separated furthest from Earth $\endgroup$ – Joe Jobs Jan 13 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ @JoeJobs - and sometimes they drift back into Earth orbit for a bit... $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Jan 14 at 14:03
  • $\begingroup$ "If the probe does not use the total payload mass and speed capacity of the rocket, a final burn after payload separation is possible to select another trajectory for the stage" - did this ever hapened? In that case the probe was not pushed at max speed possible $\endgroup$ – Joe Jobs Jan 16 at 21:57

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