Theoretically, I am trying to launch a rocket from space and trying to figure out how much fuel I would need to get to a certain distance.

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    $\begingroup$ Your question unfortunately doesn't make that much sense, getting somewhere in space is partly a function of time. How far do you want to go, and how long do you want to take to get there, then you have to account for gravity. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Mar 3, 2022 at 18:20
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps the Heinlein equation: "If you can get your ship into orbit, you're halfway to anywhere." $\endgroup$ Mar 4, 2022 at 4:24
  • $\begingroup$ Distance takes time, not fuel. $\endgroup$
    – MSalters
    Mar 4, 2022 at 9:39
  • $\begingroup$ delta-v is the parameter that most closely relates the amount of fuel a rocket burns to what that rocket can do. Where the rocket can go with that delta-V depends heavily on where it is, and what it's doing as it spends it. $\endgroup$
    – notovny
    Mar 5, 2022 at 0:37

1 Answer 1


There is no limit how much distance a rocket can travel once it has exceeded escape velocity. So there is no simple relationship between fuel and distance.

Voyager 1 ran out of fuel many years ago, but is currently traveling at a speed of 17 km/s (11 mi/s) relative to the Sun. It will continue traveling at this speed for the foreseeable future and will be at a distance of a lightyear in about 18,000 years.

Newton's first law says that in the absence of forces, a body in motion will continue with that same motion indefinitely. When there is gravity, once a rocket exceeds its local escape velocity it will continue traveling forever.


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