Comparing travelling to space in a rocket much like crossing the Atlantic using a catapult, The Conversation's Leon Vanstone opines that in order for humanity to explore the universe, it needs to find a better way to get into space, fast. One option may be the SKYLON spaceplane, a reusable vehicle capable of taking off and landing like a regular airplane, but sporting engines capable of taking it into orbit.
Being so inefficient means that the only way to get all your cargo to the height and speed you need via rocket is to jettison the empty fuel tanks as soon as they run dry. For this very reason, rockets are staged; that is, split into sections. When one section runs out of fuel, you can drop the weight of its empty container.
Very little of the rocket actually makes it to orbit, with most of the parts either crashed, burnt, or floating aimlessly in space. You can’t reuse it because you can barely get it there, let alone get it back.
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