By Martin J.L. Turner

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It is important that the boosters do not collide with any part of the rocket during separation, and similar requirement applies during stage separation. Again, explosive charges, springs, or even small rockets are used to guide the empty stages away from the main rocket. The need for this becomes clear when it is realised that in the period between the shut-down of the ®rst stage and the ignition of the second stage, the two parts of the rocket are essentially weightless. Small relative velocities, if not controlled, can cause a collision.

In its ®nal form, as the Apollo 11 launcher, the Saturn V (Plate 6) was the largest rocket ever built. It needed to be, in order to send its heavy payload to the Moon, in direct ¯ight from the surface of the Earth. It needed powerful high-thrust engines to lift it o€ the ground, and high exhaust speed to achieve the lunar transfer trajectory. The lower stage was based on the liquid oxygen±kerosine engines, which had emerged, via the Redstone rocket, from the original German A4 engine that used liquid oxygen and alcohol.

6 that the rocket can travel faster than the speed of its exhaust. This seems counter-intuitive when thinking in terms of the exhaust pushing against something. In fact, the exhaust is not pushing against anything at all, and once it has left the nozzle of the rocket engine it has no further e€ect on the rocket. All the action takes place inside the rocket, where a constant accelerating force is being exerted on the inner walls of the combustion chamber and the inside of the nozzle. 6, it can itself be much greater.

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