Stages of a Rocket Launch
Here’s how a rocket launches a capsule into space . . .
SPACECRAFT are not powerful enough to travel beyond Earth’s atmosphere on their own, so a rocket blasts them into space. Rockets are powerful machines that can break free from Earth’s gravity to reach outer space.
There are two kinds of spacecraft able to carry humans: capsules and spaceplanes. Capsules are launched on top of a rocket, while planes can be launched in other ways. For example, the Space Shuttle planes were attached to the side of rockets (see page 42) and SpaceShip Two, a plane that will soon start taking tourists into space (read more on page 72) is launched by a second plane, White Knight.
Right now the only way astronauts can get to the International Space Station, (ISS) is with a Russian Soyuz (saw-yooz) capsule which launches on top of a Soyuz rocket. It takes about nine minutes to reach space and six hours to get to the ISS. Take a look at the Soyuz rocket.
Human to scale