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Why Apollo Flew in a Figure 8

21 Apr 2018, 18:35 UTC
Why Apollo Flew in a Figure 8
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

If you’ve ever looked at a schematic for an Apollo flight like the one on the left, you’ll notice right away that it traces out a figure 8, which leads many to wonder why? Surely it’s easier to go in a straight line, right? Turns out, it was the safest way to travel.
There are a few things at play here that come together to make it a figure 8, so let’s start with a quick video explainer that has some visuals that will help. And then we can jump into the mission in more detail starting from a launch.

The Earth, if we think about it from a position hovering somewhere above the North Pole, rotates from west to east, which happens to be the same direction it travels around the Sun. The Moon does the same thing. It rotates west to east and travels around the Earth in the same direction, though of course, it’s day is equivalent to one month on Earth. In both cases, the eastern edge of the body, the edge towards which all that momentum goes, is called the leading edge. The opposite side away from which all that momentum goes is called the ...

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