How do conventional rockets work?

How fast can conventional rockets go?

Any rocket can achieve a very high speed if it accelerates for a long time. A conventional rocket has a hard time doing this because a huge amount of fuel must be carried into space in order for this to happen. This may make the rocket too heavy to lift off. Conventional rockets are generally designed to meet the speeds necessary for them to go where they need to go, and not go much faster.

Generally, a conventional rocket has to be going about 17,000 mph for it to achieve orbit; otherwise known as LEO -- Low Earth Orbit. This is the minimum speed for a spacegoing rocket. The farther from the Earth, the faster it needs to go. We list some other velocities for comparison:

Flight Plan

speed required
Earth to LEO (low Earth orbit) 17,000 mph
Earth to Earth escape 24,200 mph
Earth to lunar orbit 25,700 mph
Earth to GEO (geosynchronous Earth orbit) 26,400 mph
Earth to solar escape 36,500 mph

With increasing speed it becomes harder and harder to gain another mile per hour. This is because the amount of fuel one has to carry becomes really big, and it becomes difficult and expensive to lift that much fuel into space. Solar escape velocity is nearing the practical limit of how fast one can move with conventional rockets.

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What causes an orbit to happen?
How do objects in space travel?

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What are some kinds of orbits?
How does speed affect an orbit?

What are some rocket propellants?
How is rocket propulsion different from jet propulsion?
What could cause an orbit to fail?