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Inclination is the angular distance between a satellite's orbital plane and the equator of its primary (or the ecliptic plane in the case of heliocentric, or sun centered, orbits). An inclination of zero degrees indicates an orbit about the primary's equator in the same direction as the primary's rotation, a direction called prograde (or direct). An inclination of 90 degrees indicates a polar orbit. An inclination of 180 degrees indicates a retrograde equatorial orbit. A retrograde orbit is one in which a satellite moves in a direction opposite to the rotation of its primary.
For a spacecraft to achieve Earth orbit, it must be launched to an elevation above the Earth's atmosphere and accelerated to orbital velocity. The most energy efficient orbit, that is one that requires the least amount of propellant, is a direct low inclination orbit. To achieve such an orbit, a spacecraft is launched in an eastward direction from a site near the Earth's equator. The advantage being that the rotational speed of the Earth contributes to the spacecraft's final orbital speed. At the United States' launch site in Cape Canaveral (28.5 degrees north latitude) a due east launch results in a "free ride" of 1,471 km/h (914 mph). Launching a spacecraft in a direction other than east, or from a site far from the equator, results in an orbit of higher inclination. High inclination orbits are less able to take advantage of the initial speed provided by the Earth's rotation, thus the launch vehicle must provide a greater part, or all, of the energy required to attain orbital velocity. Although high inclination orbits are less energy efficient, they do have advantages over equatorial orbits for certain applications.
To send a spacecraft to an inner planet, such as Venus, the spacecraft is launched and accelerated in the direction opposite of Earth's revolution around the sun (i.e. decelerated) until it achieves a sun orbit with a perihelion equal to the orbit of the inner planet. It should be noted that the spacecraft continues to move in the same direction as Earth, only more slowly.
To reach a planet requires that the spacecraft be inserted into an interplanetary trajectory at the correct time so that the spacecraft arrives at the planet's orbit when the planet will be at the point where the spacecraft will intercept it. This task is comparable to a quarterback "leading" his receiver so that the football and receiver arrive at the same point at the same time. The interval of time in which a spacecraft must be launched in order to complete its mission is called a launch window.
At some point during the lifetime of most space vehicles or satellites, we must change one or more of the orbital elements. For example, we may need to transfer from an initial parking orbit to the final mission orbit, rendezvous with or intercept another spacecraft, or correct the orbital elements to adjust for the perturbations discussed in the previous section. Most frequently, we must change the orbit altitude, plane, or both. To change the orbit of a space vehicle, we have to change its velocity vector in magnitude or direction. Most propulsion systems operate for only a short time compared to the orbital period, thus we can treat the maneuver as an impulsive change in velocity while the position remains fixed. For this reason, any mane
Let's now look at the force that the Earth exerts on an object. If the object has a mass m, and the Earth has mass M, and the object's distance from the center of the Earth is r, then the force that the Earth exerts on the object is GmM /r2 . If we drop the object, the Earth's gravity will cause it to accelerate toward the center of the Earth. By Newton's second law (F = ma), this acceleration g must equal (GmM /r2)/m.
At the surface of the Earth this acceleration has the valve 9.80665 m/s2 (32.174 ft/s2).
Many of the upcoming computations will be somewhat simplified if we express the product GM as a constant, which for Earth has the value 3.986005x1014 m3/s2 (1.408x1016 ft3/s2). The product GM is often represented by the Greek letter .
These laws can be deduced from Newton's laws of motion and law of universal gravitation. Indeed, Newton used Kepler's work as basic information in the formulation of his gravitational theory.
As Kepler pointed out, all planets move in elliptical orbits, however, we can learn much about planetary motion by considering the special case of circular orbits. We shall neglect the forces between planets, considering only a planet's interaction with the sun. These considerations apply equally well to the motion of a satellite about a planet.
Let's examine the case of two bodies of masses M and m moving in circular orbits under the influence of each other's gravitational attraction. The center of mass of this system of two bodies lies along the line joining them at a point C such that mr = MR. The large body of mass M moves in an orbit of constant radius R and the small body of mass m in an orbit of constant radius r, both having the same angular velocity . For this to happen, the gravitational force acting on each body must provide the necessary centripetal acceleration. Since these gravitational forces are a simple action-reaction pair, the centripetal forces must be equal but opposite in direction. That is, m 2r must equal M 2R. The specific requirement, then, is that the gravitational force acting on either body must equal the centripetal force needed to keep it moving in its circular orbit.
A space vehicle's orbit may be determined from the position and the velocity of the vehicle at the beginning of its free flight.
The region above 90 km is the Earth's thermosphere where the absorption of extreme ultraviolet radiation from the Sun results in a very rapid increase in temperature with altitude. At approximately 200-250 km this temperature approaches a limiting value, the average value of which ranges between about 600 and 1,200 K over a typical solar cycle. Solar activity also has a significant affect on atmospheric density, with high solar activity resulting in high density. Below about 150 km the density is not strongly affected by solar activity; however, at satellite altitudes in the range of 500 to 800 km, the density variations between solar maximum and solar minimum are approximately two orders of magnitude. The large variations imply that satellites will decay more rapidly during periods of solar maxima and much more slowly during solar minima.
At some point during the lifetime of most space vehicles or satellites, we must change one or more of the orbital elements. For example, we may need to transfer from an initial parking orbit to the final mission orbit, rendezvous with or intercept another spacecraft, or correct the orbital elements to adjust for the perturbations discussed in the previous section. Most frequently, we must change the orbit altitude, plane, or both. To change the orbit of a space vehicle, we have to change its velocity vector in magnitude or direction. Most propulsion systems operate for only a short time compared to the orbital period, thus we can treat the maneuver as an impulsive change in velocity while the position remains fixed. For this reason, any maneuverchanging the orbit of a space vehicle must occur at a point where the old orbit intersects the new orbit. If the orbits do not intersect, we must use an intermediate orbit that intersects both. In this case, the total maneuver will require at least two propulsive burns.
Ordinarily we want to transfer a space vehicle using the smallest amount of energy, which usually leads to using a Hohmann transfer orbit. However, sometimes we may need to transfer a satellite between orbits in less time than that required to complete the Hohmann transfer. The figure to the right shows a faster transfer called the One-Tangent Burn. In this instance the transfer orbit is tangential to the initial orbit. It intersects the final orbit at an angle equal to the flight path angle of the transfer orbit at the point of intersection. An infinite number of transfer orbits are tangential to the initial orbit and intersect the final orbit at some angle. Thus, we may choose the transfer orbit by specifying the size of the transfer orbit, the angular change of the transfer, or the time required to complete the transfer. We can then define the transfer orbit and calculate the required velocities.
Defined a little more formally, "escape velocity" is the initial speed required to go from an initial point in a gravitational potential field to infinity with a residual velocity of zero, with all speeds and velocities measured with respect to the field. Additionally, the escape velocity at a point in space is equal to the speed that an object would have if it started at rest from an infinite distance and was pulled by gravity to that point. In common usage, the initial point is on the surface of a planet or moon. On the surface of the Earth, the escape velocity is about 11.2 kilometers per second (~6.96 mi/s), which is approximately 34 times the speed of sound (mach 34) and at least 10 times the speed of a rifle bullet. However, at 9,000 km altitude in "space", it is slightly less than 7.1 km/s.
The escape velocity relative to the surface of a rotating body depends on direction in which the escaping body travels. For example, as the Earth's rotational velocity is 465 m/s at the equator, a rocket launched tangentially from the Earth's equator to the east requires an initial velocity of about 10.735 km/s relative to Earth to escape whereas a rocket launched tangentially from the Earth's equator to the west requires an initial velocity of about 11.665 km/s relative to Earth. The surface velocity decreases with the cosine of the geographic latitude, so space launch facilities are often located as close to the equator as feasible, e.g. the American Cape Canaveral (latitude 28°28' N) and the French Guiana Space Centre (latitude 5°14' N).
Originally posted by Phage
There is probably no other aspect of physics which is directly observable yet less intuitive than orbital mechanics.
In order to obtain a higher orbit you expend energy to slow down. To reach a lower orbit you expend energy to speed up. Goofy.
If you are in an orbit only slightly lower that the spacecraft you want to rendezvous with and you point your nose at it (or even ahead of it) and apply thrust, you end up getting farther away from it.
If you really want to get frustrated, load up this free simulator and try docking with the space station manually. You'll quickly find out just how tricky it is.
orbit.medphys.ucl.ac.uk...
Originally posted by Havoc40k
It is Definately worth a crack though... Perhaps we can get members to try it out and report back as to how many actually do manage to get into orbit and dock...
I just finished construction of a custom space station and I've been preparing for a simulated journey to Mars (for uber-geek points I'm going to carry out the trip in realtime by simulating it one week at a time - it will take me 7-8 months just to reach Mars). My earth departure stage is already in orbit waiting for my manned vehicle to launch and dock with it.
Originally posted by jkrog08
We know that you must reach a certain speed to escape the pull of any body in space, here on Earth the required velocity is around 25,000 mph, which is why the space shuttle needs all the fuel you see on the three rocket boosters. But we will see below there is a way around having to achieve that speed. The space shuttle only needs to achieve a speed of about 17,500 mph to go into LEO (Low Earth Orbit) , where from there it can easily break free of the Earths gravity.
Although it should be stated that the primary surge of power from the space shuttle is used to get into Low Earth Orbit, from there the shuttle then uses the remaining surge to achieve a much easier escape velocity.
Perhaps that's what you were describing, but I just thought it could use clarification.