• Question: Roughly, how much fuel does a rocket need to be able to stay in space for a decent amount of time?

    Asked by sophie to Anne, Beth, COLFlight, Jon, Tom on 14 Oct 2015.
    • Photo: Columbus Flight Directors

      Columbus Flight Directors answered on 14 Oct 2015:

      Hi Sophie!
      To “stay in” space, you don’t need a lot of fuel. Actually, if you are far enough from the Earth (some thousand miles), you could stay in space for many many years without needing any fuel.

      However, you neeed A LOT of fuel to “get to” space. Consider that when you launch, you have to lift a mass of several thousands of pounds up to an altitude of a thousand miles and also you have to accelerate it to several thousand miles per hour! That is really a lot of energy!

      Imagine that the spacecraft on which Tim will fly to space weights about 13 thousand pounds. It needs about 350 thousand pounds of fuel to go to space! To give you an idea, that is as much as 40 very big elephants 😉