Physics of Satellites

Philip S. / Physics of Satellites / 15 April 1997
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[ Launching ][ Retrieving of Satellites ]


Satellites play a very big part in our lives. Without the use of satellites we wouldn't be able to watch television, be able to communicate to the other side of the earth. Satellites aren't just in space they have to be put there. This part is very important step on using a satellite. What goes up must come down, so there comes the problem of bringing the satellite back to earth.


The launching of a satellite varies in two ways. The first way of launching a satellite is to carry it into space on a space shuttle. "Space shuttles carry some satellites into space."(Oberright,3) Then when the satellite is raised to the required height it is given a thrust into orbit. There is another way of launching a satellite into space, this method of launching is done with a rocket. A satellite is put into a rocket and launched into space. "The method of launching is to raise the projectile to the required height and then iv it a side ways thrust which will throw it into the right orbit."(Oberright,3) When rocket is launched upward into space the rockets fuel is spent, the satellite separates from the rocket and the rocket falls from space and into the ocean. The satellite is left in space. The satellite requires minor adjustment, this is done by built in rockets called thrusters. When a satellite is up in orbit it stays in orbit for a long time.

Retrieving of Satellites

Satellites don't last for ever. When a satellite has out lived its usefulness or needs to be repaired or replaced it needs to be retrieved. There are also two different ways of retrieving a satellite. One way of retrieving a satellite is by it falling from its orbit. "A satellite remains in orbit until its velocity decreases and the gravitational forces pulls it down into a relatively dense part of the atmosphere. A satellite slows down due to friction of air particles in the upper atmosphere and the gentle pressure of the sun's energy. When the gravitational force pulls the satellite down far enough into the atmosphere, the satellite rapidly compresses the air in front of it. This air becomes so hot that most or all of the satellite burns up."(Oberright,4)

The other way a satellite is retrieved is with a space shuttles This isn't something that happens often. If this does occur it is because the satellite needs to be repaired or reprogrammed. When it does happen a space shuttles crew go up into space and try to repair the satellite. The satellite is repaired in space or it is taken back to earth for its repairs or reprogramming. If the satellite isn't repairable reprogrammable the operator at the control center shuts the satellite off and it falls out of orbit and either drifts into space or falls to earth.


Without satellites everything would be different, for example television. Without a satellite to transmit the programs we wouldn't have any television. There for satellites due play a big role in our lives and without being able to launch a satellite into space or be able to retrieve it from space we wouldn't have such things as television.


Olberright, John E. "Satellite, Artificial" World Book Information Finder

CD-ROM:World Book Inc,1993