Science on Stage Europe The European platform for science teachers

Space Travel: Newton, Kepler, circular motion, gravitation, potential and kinetic energy (iStage 1)


Imagine travelling from one planet to another. Why is it that we have to first travel in circles instead of taking the straight path? Before going on our trip, we must consider: the revolution velocity of our starting planet, the required spaceship velocity, and the optimum momentum for launching the spaceship (because if we miss it, we’ll travel past the target planet, without even noticing it). Finally, we need to know the fuel economy of the trip (after all, we don’t have gas stations in space).

In this teaching unit, students study how a spaceship arrives on a circular orbit around a planet, and how it travels from one planet to another on a Hohmann transfer orbit. This unit is recommended for students age 12 to 19 years.

Please find the additional material mentioned in the text below. The project is taken from the brochure ‘iStage: ICT in Science Teaching’ from the unit ‘From Bicycle to Space’. You can order the complete brochure in print (mail to or download it here. The material has been developed by 22 teachers from 15 countries. The project has been supported by SAP.Please find additional material for this teaching unit here.

Authors: Dionysis Konstantinou (GR), Corina Toma (RO) | Ed. Science on Stage Deutschland e.V. | License: Creative Commons

iStage 1 - Space Travel
iStage 1 - Raumfahrt
iStage 1 - Voyage dans L’Espace
iStage 1 - Lot w kosmos
iStage 1 - Călătorie în spațiu
iStage 1 - Potovanje po vesolju
iStage 1 - Űrutazás

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