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Math teacher in over his head

  1. Sep 14, 2005 #1
    Math teacher in over his head :)

    Not so much "over my head" as I don't have as much time as I'd like to research the answers. My 7th grade honors class is doing a project on "How fast is the Space Shuttle in terms of Mach?" (My title, not theirs :) ).

    They didn't have too much trouble finding the speed of sound at various altitudes, but the math to find the shuttle velocity at those altitudes (and how fast it got there) is WAY beyond them and I've got too much on my plate to review my college physics :( So, will some enterprising soul help me fill in the table below...?

    Altitude / SST velocity (any reasonable units) / t+

    TIA :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 14, 2005 #2

    Doc Al

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  4. Sep 14, 2005 #3


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    There's some information on the NASA web site, but not enough to fill out your chart. Here's what they have:

    Ref: NASA

    You might consider asking the experts. Bet the kids would enjoy emailing astronauts.
  5. Sep 14, 2005 #4


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    This is purely theoretical but for a pretty good approximation, you could use v^2 = GM/(R+h)

    v = orbital velocity,
    G = univ. grav. const.
    M = mass of earth
    R = mean radius of earth
    h = orbital height
  6. Sep 14, 2005 #5


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    Ion: I'm assuming the altitudes you provided above are in feet or perhaps meters. Perhaps you could clarify for everyones sake.
  7. Sep 14, 2005 #6


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    Is the problem estimating the shuttle's speed on it's upward trip, it's downward trip, or both? Most of the solutions presented seem to be oriented towards figuring out it's speed on the downward trip, though the web page that talks about the glide approach also talks a bit about the ascent phase, too.
  8. Sep 16, 2005 #7
    Sorry. Altitude is in feet. As much as I'd like to do metric, for 7th graders, it seems easiest to use feet (they can grasp that concept better).
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