Gravity Slingshot

“On the day our ships are ready, the City will see us blast into the sky.” —Arach Jalaal

Definition/Summary:

Gravitational slingshot is a method of utilizing the gravitational pull of a large interstellar body as a means of propulsion. This technique is achieved by flying in a steep parabolic partial orbit around the body

A gravity assist around a planet changes a spacecraft’s velocity (relative to the Sun) by entering and leaving the gravitational field of a planet

  • A spacecraft’s speed increases as it approaches a planet and decreases while escaping its gravitational pull (which is approximately the same)
  • To increase speed, the spacecraft must fly with the movement of the planet (taking a small amount of the planet’s orbital energy)
  • In order to decrease speed, the spacecraft flies against the movement of the planet
  • A slingshot maneuver is used to change the spaceship’s trajectory and speed relative to the Suns gravitational pull

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