Questions tagged [stages]

Rather than carry empty weight all the way to orbit, rockets usually use a stage system. Stages can take many forms and have over the years.

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When did the concept of "stages" enter rocketry?

The staged rocket design is common now, but at some point in the history of rocket design it must have been revolutionary. When was the staged design introduced? Was it quickly accepted or did it ...
Dan Sorensen's user avatar
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Why did the Saturn V stage fairing appear to burn after separation?

This video shows the stage separation of the 1st stage of Apollo 4 (incorrectly identified as Apollo 11) followed by the jettisoning of the ring-shaped fairing between the two stages. The moment the ...
Philipp's user avatar
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What is the legal status of waste rocket parts ending up in the ocean?

Since most rockets are 'expendable', and perform re-entry over sea, their parts either burn up or end up in the world's oceans. It there any legal basis for the waste (pollution) that ends up in the ...
florisla's user avatar
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6 answers
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Why do rockets have multiple stages?

I guess, almost all the rockets have multiple stages. But, I was wondering, why do they have multiple stages? Couldn't they have just 1 stage? With more stages, they would require more engines (...
Ishaan Manish's user avatar
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Is Asparagus Staging Possible

Sorry if this is the wrong place to ask this question, as its very much hypothetical. In the computer game Kerbal Space Program , there are 3 main Staging Options that are used Conventional Staging ...
Blade Wraith's user avatar
21 votes
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What would be necessary in order for us to achieve a single stage to orbit, reusable rocket?

I have read articles and seen videos explaining why an SSTO (Single Stage To Orbit) rocket* is not possible. But I was wondering... What would be required to achieve this? Answers can be literally ...
Outsider's user avatar
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Why do rockets not glide back?

After stage separation, why do the rockets not glide back to Earth with wings? Is retro propulsion a better idea than gliding rockets back to 'Earth'? Take Energia-II as an example: Source: buran.ru ...
Red Orbiter 10.1's user avatar
18 votes
1 answer
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How do rockets prevent rear-ending after stage seperation?

On the third flight of SpaceX's Falcon 1, the following failure occurred according to one narrative. We turned off the first-stage engine and then proceeded to separate the vehicle stages; however, ...
AlanSE's user avatar
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For a typical Shuttle mission, how much solid fuel is leftover at SRB separation?

If I understand correctly, solid booster rockets never expend literally all their fuel before jetissoning, because the burn rate slows way down in the end and it would take too long to spend it all, ...
DrZ214's user avatar
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15 votes
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Why not keep the engine for multi-stage rockets?

Rocket engines are a huge weight in a multi-stage rocket. and they are stacked like so: Fairing/Payload Fuel Engine -- Seperator -- Fuel Engine and so on, which means multiple engines. Is there ...
mateos's user avatar
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Highest stage counts in actual launchers?

I was reading about the Minotaur V that Orbital Sciences is readying for launch from Wallops Island, VA before 2014. (I really do not trust launch dates). It is a Minotaur IV+ with a fifth stage. ...
geoffc's user avatar
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Is it possible for the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB) to hit the Space Shuttle after jettison?

We all know that the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB) were the pair of large solid rockets used by the United States' NASA Space Shuttle during the first two minutes of its powered flight. ...
zundi's user avatar
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13 votes
4 answers
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How big would a manned ascent stage for Mars need to be?

For a manned mission to Mars that isn't a one-way trip, we'll need an ascent stage that can reach orbit from Mars' surface. How big would this need to be to transport e.g. 3 astronauts to orbit? We've ...
Hobbes's user avatar
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Highest stage count that are used one right after the other?

Two questions inspired this question: Highest stage counts in actual launchers? Answer: Saturn V six stages to the Moon Does a high staging number have diminishing returns? Is there a way to address ...
uhoh's user avatar
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Which currently operational orbital launch vehicle achieves highest system-specific impulse?

I'm primarily looking for comparison of currently operational orbital launch vehicles by system-specific impulse, or Issp, and to get a fair impression of achievable rocket propellant performance and ...
TildalWave's user avatar
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1 answer
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Why aren’t rocket stages modular and interchangeable?

Being an avid player of Kerbal Space Program, it is intensely frustrating to return to the real world and have to remind myself that rocket stages can’t generally be swapped out between rockets (...
Vikki's user avatar
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How is rocket engine cutoff controlled?

In a typical, modern satellite launch, what triggers the cutoff of the orbital insertion stage's rocket engines? I can think of three basic possibilities: Compute how much fuel you need for the ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
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How is hot staging of Starship expected to provide such a large (10%) increase in total mass to LEO?

there's a meaningful payload to orbit advantage with hot staging that is conservatively about a 10% increase (Elon Musk during Twitter Spaces interview on June 24th, 2023, timestamp 37:13) In a line ...
Ingolifs's user avatar
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10 votes
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A cryo tank within another cryo tank...is it a sound engineering concept?

Here's the idea: A large spherical LH2 tank is placed inside a spherical LOX tank. The reason I thought of this is so the inner tank doesn't need to be insulated. It doesn't need to be a double-...
DrZ214's user avatar
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10 votes
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Does a high staging number have diminishing returns? Is there a way to address that mathematically?

I was reading this question: Help me understand what Farside, a ten "stage" rockoon looked like? How was it configured? Comments link to Highest stage counts in actual launchers? but here ...
Magic Octopus Urn's user avatar
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1 answer
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What are the “nacelle” like protrusions on the first stage of Black Arrow?

I noticed these “nacelle” like protrusions on the first stage of Black Arrow while browsing Wikipedia. They look like they're spaced unequally but symmetrically in two sets of two around the first ...
ForgeMonkey's user avatar
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10 votes
1 answer
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Optimum velocity for first stage separation in a two-stage launcher

Looking at the numbers that are given, for example, at the SpaceX launches, it seems that the velocities at first stage separation are a bit above 2 km/s. The second stage does all the rest of the ...
xxyxyx's user avatar
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Why does PSLV use four stages to get to LEO, and why do they alternate solid, liquid, solid, liquid?

Is there a simple way to explain why ISRO's PSLV launch vehicle uses four stages to get to LEO, and why they alternate as follows: ...
uhoh's user avatar
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Why do rockets separate from both its strap-on booster cores simultaneously instead of one at a time? (Delta IV Heavy, Falcon Heavy, Angara)

The basic idea of staged rocketry is to get rid of the mass of empty tanks et cetera as soon as possible during launch, isn't it? So you would ideally want to drop them one at a time as soon as they ...
LocalFluff's user avatar
8 votes
2 answers
341 views

Using lower stage as reaction mass

As I was thinking about the process of stage separation, I realized the empty stage dropped, often many tons, is usually separated quite gently, moving at sluggish couple of m/s or less away from the ...
SF.'s user avatar
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How does a launch vehicle control its trajectory during the first stage?

It appears during most launches that the only engines working are the main first stage engines. It was my understanding that these engines are fixed in place and cannot turn the rocket, but I must be ...
Stu's user avatar
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What is used to connect the side boosters to the first stage?

For example, on the Falcon Heavy, the two side cores detached from the first stage but how are they attached and what mechanism is used to detach them?
Elliot Padfield's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why do Proton rockets use two types of main engines in its second stage?

The second stage of Proton (8K-82K) rocket has two types of main engines (RD-0210 and RD-0211). Does someone knows why?
Junior Miranda's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
746 views

SpaceX Falcon 9 Reusable first stage propellant for return

How much propellant is required to return the Falcon 9 Reusable's first stage after separation?
Erik's user avatar
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7 votes
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What is the most number of stages, including fractional stages?

Falcon 9 clearly has two stages, but the smaller two-stage Electron has a "kick-stage" so some might call that 2.5. The question Quantitative benefits of Atlas II's engine-dropping or 1.5 staging? and ...
Muze's user avatar
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7 votes
3 answers
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Why won't Falcon Heavy launch with 100% thrust?

The crossfeed system is not yet realized for Falcon Heavy. Instead, the central booster will throttle down after liftoff and resume "full thrust after side boosters separate". Why would one do that ...
Everyday Astronaut's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
319 views

Why was the Minotaur V built as a 5-stage design?

Why is Orbital Science's Minotaur V rocket a five stage design? I am aware this is derived from an ICBM design, but why would anyone want a five stage design for launching non-lethal payloads? It ...
Eric Urban's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
906 views

What was the first large rocket to use APCP solid fuel?

I'm surprised wikipedia doesn't have a history section for its APCP article. If I'm not mistaken, early solid rockets used something other than APCP, and really really early solid rockets used black ...
DrZ214's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
245 views

Regulation governing the use of ocean areas for the return of space objects?

What are the rules governing international use of water areas to dump used spacecrafts from orbit or launch trajectory. (source: Wikipedia / Nasa) This would apply to rocket stages, boosters, tanks, ...
mins's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
3k views

What do we mean by rocket stages?

I'am new in the field of rocketing and space,i wanted to know what do we do by adding different stages to a rocket and it's used for what, and if we add a second stage we can put another booster on it ...
Taher's user avatar
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6 votes
3 answers
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What types of decoupling mechanisms to separate spacecraft are used in spaceflight?

For a project I have to find select a decoupling mechanism for a spacecraft. I have searched google but I can't find any documentation on decoupling mechanisms. I need to know what types of decoupling ...
Michel Touw's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
672 views

How rare is it in the 21st century to use five stages to get to LEO, especially for a low-mass payload?

@BobJacobsen's comment about the MX Missile (and protests) in the 1980's got me clicking in Wikipedia, which led me to the Minotaur IV launches, the most recent of which seems to be ORS-5 or "...
uhoh's user avatar
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Did the Saturn V interstage ring burn up in the atmosphere?

In Saturn V launch footage, the interstage ring falls away shortly after stage I separation, briefly catching fire from the stage II exhaust. Does this ring continue to drop uncontrolled and impact ...
Dan Sorensen's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
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Developing intuition about altitude and velocity in multi stage rockets

I just started learning some basics of rocketry and am struggling to understand the outcomes of a simulator I’m programming. All other things being equal, when I attempt to simulate the altitude over ...
Andrew Meyer's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
789 views

About optimal staging and structure fractions

I have recently came across an assignment where I have to do optimal staging of rockets using Lagrange multipliers. I am suppose to optimize the mass of each stage of a well-known rocket(I chose ...
Joshua Woo's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
155 views

1/st Stage slow down after MECO and separation for F9's

Once the Falcon 9 Full Thrust 1st Stage reaches "MECO" - main engine cut off - and separates from the 2nd Stage how much velocity does it lose? Specifically at "MECO" its velocity is approx. 5,900 km/...
RowlandReeves's user avatar
5 votes
0 answers
117 views

Have any stages of rocket killed aquatic animals?

This question may seem off-topic but I am curious.Those rockets that aren't reusable let their stages fall and splash down on the ocean. Is there any news reported that they have killed some aquatic ...
Auberron's user avatar
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4 votes
4 answers
476 views

Could a third stage be added to Starship?

SpaceX has predicted that Starship will be able to lift up to 150 tons to LEO. Could some of the payload that it will carry have a third stage? If so could that save another flight of Starship since ...
The Rocket fan's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
2k views

Would there be any advantages for a rocket with two "half stages"?

A "half stage" is a rocket stage which separates with its engines, but not fuel tanks. Common examples include Atlas (1.5 stages), Atlas-Agena (2.5 stages), and Atlas-Centaur (2.5 stages). On paper, ...
DrSheldon's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
286 views

Is the space shuttle the only launcher that jettisson tank without any engines in its staging process?

All launcher I know jettison stages composed of both tank and engines. I do understand that: the jettison process is useful to get rid of dead weight jettison engines allows the use of more suited ...
Manu H's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
144 views

How is it provided for that the uppermost stage doesn't orbit with the capsule/satellite together?

After a spacecraft reaches orbit and jettisons its last stage, that stage would be in the same orbit too. What are methods to avoid this, or isn't it cared about? In case of the Space Shuttle, the ...
user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
560 views

Could the Atlas-B (SM-65B) have made it to orbit without jettisoning the first-stage engines?

Related to this question about single-stage-to-orbit vehicles, the Atlas-B launch vehicle seems to have been the closest to a true SSTO solution. Although it did jettison booster engines, the vehicle ...
Brian Lynch's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
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Why aren't ejectable engine blocks in use today?

Related to my previous question regarding expending the RS-25s. Why aren't engine blocks, especially those expensive RS-25s on the SLS, made ejectable from the fuel tank assembly and parachute to be ...
WarpPrime's user avatar
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3 votes
5 answers
2k views

Could rockets launched from the ground use wings in the stages?

Could a slower or smaller rocket take advantage of lift if all the stages had wings? Could the stages reduce splashdown impact forces by using a spinning seedpod-like design (as shown in the image ...
Muze's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
515 views

Can landing modules use left over fuel from earlier stages?

I just read a comment by @RussellBorogove about the Apollo 11 abort options that the landing module had about 700 pounds of fuel left on touchdown. I assume that this is the intended behavior for any ...
choeger's user avatar
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