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14 votes
Accepted

Is it possible for the exhaust plume of a rocket engine burning retrograde to accelerate an object into an even higher orbit?

It's theoretically possible; the velocity of the exhaust plume is around 3000 m/s (pretty close to what you'd need for a translunar injection!) and the mass flow rate is ~270 kg/s, so if a small piece ...
11 votes
Accepted

What does the exhaust plume of a rocket look like in vacuum?

Sorry, no bulb-shaped exhaust plume, at least not in true vacuum. But you might see something similar to an incandescent light bulb shaped exhaust plume at high altitudes that first stages reach, up ...
  • 75.7k
10 votes

Why are the exhaust plumes exiting the nozzles of SpaceShip Two segmented along their length?

Those are Mach diamonds. They form due to the interaction of the exhaust flow with its own supersonic shockwaves. All rockets and some jet engines produce them; their visibility varies with the ...
  • 9,959
10 votes

What is this South Korean rocket and why does it have separate yellow and blue exhaust plumes?

That's KSLV-2 aka Nuri. The first stage uses kerolox gas generator engines so the brighter flame is almost certainly ignited fuel-rich gas generator exhaust. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuri_(rocket)...
7 votes
Accepted

ULA just launched a very asymmetric Atlas V 511. Why does its plume look so asymmetric... after SRB jettison?

Looking at the engine configurations for the Atlas V: Credit: ULA, from Spaceflight Now article I think it's likely a plume impingement effect from the two nozzles of the RD-180 engine. The plume ...
6 votes

Why are the rocket plumes on SN10 different colors?

SN10 like all recent Starship prototypes is very over powered. It has 3 Raptor engines each capable of producing in excess of 200 tonnes thrust and for safety reasons it also takes off with a fairly ...
  • 6,199
4 votes

What does the exhaust plume of a rocket look like in vacuum?

Why, they look like this :) Here's an image of 3 rocket engines firing simultaneously on the Orbiter. (up, right, and aft firing RCS jets) Nota bene: the sorta-rectangular object just above the ...
3 votes

What is the semicircular puff coming from the Falcon 9 first stage in this picture?

We watched the launch live from about 60 miles north of the launch site. I also had the live feed on my phone. As the first stage separated, the thrusters fired to change the orientation of the vessel....
  • 1,850
3 votes

What is this additional plume on the Falcon 9, and is it being ignited/corrected for?

I checked the CRS-6 launch (which launched at daytime, so you can see more on the video). Around T+1m, the camera pans up and you can see vapor coming out of at least two ports at the top of the ...
  • 122k
3 votes

What does the exhaust plume of a rocket look like in vacuum?

Since this question was posted, plenty of exhaust plumes have been filmed from the ground giving a nice impression of the long term expansion behavior. ...
3 votes

Identity of source of Rocket Plume visible Eastern Australia, north of Scorpio, midnight 28 July 2016?

The most probable answer to date offered for the observed sky feature is the NROL-61 rocket launch. Specifically, a fuel dump from the Centaur stage of the multistage launch, as part of the Centaur's ...
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2 votes

Identity of source of Rocket Plume visible Eastern Australia, north of Scorpio, midnight 28 July 2016?

Not sure but it was probably the NROL-61 launch. A spy satellite for the US National Reconnaissance Office was launched at 1237 GMT July 28 from Cape Canaveral. I don't know its exact orbit so I can'...
2 votes
Accepted

What is the plume effect?

Here's my take at an explanation of the base force - in words and pictures! Here we see Block I ShuttleTM sitting on the pad, engines off. The sea level atmosphere surrounds it everywhere and all ...
2 votes

Why are the rocket plumes on SN10 different colors?

The orange color indicates they're running fuel-rich. With the methane/oxygen ratio out of whack there would be more carbon in the exhaust which burns orange. It's possible that engine was ...
  • 7,906
1 vote

Why is the exhaust plume of Falcon 9 upper stage shaped the way it is?

Scott Manley did a video on this from SAOCOM. It basically seems to be some characteristic of the pintle injectors inside the engine, which leads to the unusual ...
  • 119k
1 vote

How bright is a rocket launch?

The chemical energy from burning 1 mole (2 grams) of hydrogen in plentiful oxygen is 242 kJ. Just enough oxygen is half a mole, or 16 grams. The Space Shuttle external tank contained 629,340 kg of ...

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