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Stephen Mayo | Getting Up to Speed

Getting Up to Speed

July 12, 2020

"There is no such thing as escape altitude, there is only escape velocity...The Space Station is actually zooming around the Earth at 17,000 miles per hour"

          - Interview with Elon Musk: 


The force of gravity 100 miles above the earth's surface is nearly as strong (95%) as it is sitting in your living room. To put a rocket or satellite into orbit around the Earth, the challenge is less about getting away from the Earth's gravitational force, and more about going fast enough so that the speed keeps the object in orbit instead of falling back to Earth.

Maintaining that high speed gets a lot easier once you're outside the Earth's atmosphere because the air resistance is negligible. But getting up to speed takes an enormous amount of energy because of there's so much air resistance near the surface of the Earth. 

Anytime we take on a big new challenge, we typically encounter a similar kind of resistance: I don't know if this will work.  What if I'm not doing it right?  What if this doesn't pan out?  Maybe I should go back to doing what I was really good at before. 

And like the rocket trying to reach orbit, it takes an enormous amount of energy (courage and perseverance) to stick with it until the resistance subsides at higher altitudes. 

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