Exploring the Solar System

Exploration Basics

What is a gravitational slingshot?

A gravitational slingshot, also known as a “gravity assist” or “swing-by,” is a special orbital maneuver—a complex, carefully planned flyby—that allows a spacecraft to use the gravitational pull of a solar system object to change the spacecraft’s speed and direction. These maneuvers allow mission designers to save fuel and weight, which are two of the most crucial limitations to successful spacecraft operations and mission lifetimes.


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