What is Escape Velocity and Its Relation to Space Research
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What is Escape Velocity and Its Relation to Space Research

'Escape velocity’is a direct application of Newton’s third law as the force exerted by the body escaping from the earth generates a reaction. This force or velocity generated must be greater than the attracting force for an object to break free and enter space. It has now been calculated that a velocity of 7 miles per second is the minimum speed required to break free from the confines of the earth’s gravity; this is popularly referred to as ' Escape velocity' and works out to a speed of almost 25000 miles per hour.

What is Escape Velocity and its relation to Space Research

  The foundation of space research is the laws of motion of Isaac Newton.  These laws are the corner stone of time and space and have been applied to classical mechanics in space travel. In particular Newton’s third law of motion which states that to" each and every action there is a reaction"  finds immediate application in space research.

Newton also postulated two further hypotheses. Firstly he calculated an invisible force which was directly in relation to the mass of a body. He called it gravity and gave it a numerical figure of 32 ft per second (represented as 32 ft2).This is the velocity with which a body falls to the earth due to the force of attraction. The earth and all heavenly bodies’ exert this force on all bodies which is proportional to the mass of the body.

Thus the famous equation F= ma saw the light of the day. Another postulate of  Newton  that a body "continues in its path of motion unless acted upon by an external force” has great bearing on space travel. Newton reduced his laws of motion to a simple equation.

 Robert Goddard a research fellow at the Princeton University in 1912 was one of the first to visualize space travel. He realized that any physical body which has to break free from the power of attraction of the earth must generate sufficient force to break free from this force of attraction exerted by the earth. He termed it the 'escape velocity’. This is a direct application of Newton’s third law as the force exerted by the body escaping from the earth generates a reaction. This force or velocity generated must be greater than the attracting force for an object to break free and enter space. It has now been calculated that a velocity of 7 miles per second is the minimum speed required  to break free from the confines of the earth’s gravity; this is popularly referred to as ' Escape velocity' and works out to a speed of almost 25000 miles per hour.

Once the object breaks free from the gravitational pull of the earth it continues on its path unless acted upon by an external force.  Thus inter-planetary travel is a possibility once a space vehicle can break free from the earth’s force of gravity. It can then travel to distant planets without using any of its own power.

 As per Newton’s law in case the escape velocity is not achieved, than the body will move in a parabolic curve, dependent on the force of gravity exerted by it. This is the principle of the rockets used for purposes other than space exploration. 

As far as   escape velocity is concerned those who are interested can remember the equation.

 In case you fill the values, where r is the radius of the earth (6400km) and g the acceleration due to gravity at 32ft2 or 9.8 m/s2, the figure that will emerge is 11200m/s which is about 11 km or 7 miles per second.

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