Space Programs

Rocket History

How powerful are typical space rockets today?

Rockets today have varying sizes, masses, and lift capacities, and different ones are used depending on the payload that is being delivered into space. Typical rockets that are used to send supplies or other small payloads to the International Space Station or other low Earth-orbit destinations include the Soyuz-Fregat system, which sits on the launch pad to a height of about 120 feet (35 meters), weighs about three hundred tons fully loaded with fuel, and can produce about 800,000 pounds of thrust at takeoff. Systems that launch exploratory spacecraft (like Messenger, Cassini, and the Mars Exploration Rovers) include the Delta II rockets, which stand about 120 feet high and deliver about one million pounds of thrust at takeoff, and the Atlas V rockets, which are about 190 feet tall and can deliver up to about two million pounds of thrust.


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