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Rocket to Space: The Orbit

Vocabulary
 challenging words: apogee, perigee, velocity, ellipse, circular, atmosphere, orbit, maintain, rockets, minimum, outer, downward, astronaut, meters, finest, earth content words: National Aeronautics

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Spanish: Cohete al espacio: la órbita

 Rocket to Space: The Orbit By Trista L. Pollard

1     You are an astronaut on one of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) finest rockets. Your rocket has made it through a perfect launch. You and your crew are entering space. As you see the stars ahead, you begin to think about your next move. Of course, that move is called an orbit.

2     In fact, your rocket began to prepare for its orbit as it made its way to the outer edge of the earth's atmosphere. An orbit is the path of an object when it revolves around another object. Once an object reaches outer space, that object has to maintain a certain speed to stay within its orbit. Your rocket needs to move forward at five miles per second (8 kilometers per second) to stay in orbit. Now you are probably wondering if orbiting objects ever fall toward earth. Well, they do. Orbiting rockets, satellites, and other space vehicles fall toward the earth about 16 feet per second (5 meters per second). Since the earth is also revolving around the sun and rotating on its axis, its surface curves downward five meters every eight kilometers. This means that your rocket as it orbits earth, will keep falling around earth, but it will never reach the ground.

3     Your rocket needed to reach an escape velocity to escape the earth's gravitational pull. It also needs to maintain an orbital velocity once in space. This is the minimum velocity your rocket needs to move to maintain its orbit around the earth or other body in space. Your rocket needs to travel at a speed of 18,000 miles per hour (29,000 kilometers per hour) during its orbit.

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