air Earth parabola projectile rocket Science

WHY DO ROCKETS FOLLOW A PARABOLA AFTER LAUNCH?

Students have long been taught that all projectiles follow a curved path known as a parabola.
The explanation is that, as they fly, they cover distance both horizontally and vertically – but only the
latter is affected by the force of gravity, which bends the path of the projectile into a parabola. For longrange
rockets, things are more complex. For example, air resistance must be taken into account. But,
even ignoring that, a projectile doesn’t really follow a parabola – because the Earth isn’t flat. This means
that gravity doesn’t simply pull objects straight back down. Instead, it pulls them towards the centre of
the Earth, whose direction changes as the projectile moves further down-range, away from the launch
site. Detailed calculations then reveal that the true trajectory is not a parabola, but part of an ellipse.

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