The Space Shuttle

4. Liftoff! (10 pts.) The Space Shuttle typically had a mass of around 2 million kg, and the three attached rockets had a combined thrust of around 30 million newtons.

a) How much force would the rockets have to exert to have the whole thing hover just above Earth’s surface? What would be the net force on the whole thing just after liftoff if the rockets were exerting maximum thrust?

b) How fast would the whole thing accelerate initially? How many “g” would the astronauts feel? (Remember that gravity is still pulling down on them!)

c) Most of the challenge of getting into orbit is accelerating to orbit speed. What is orbit speed for a shuttle orbiting 350 km above Earth’s surface? (Put your answer in km / s.)