What are multi-stage rockets?

  • Multistage rockets are those that use two or more stages, each of which contains its own engines and propellant. A stacked stage is mounted on top of another stage; a parallel stage is attached next to another stage. The result is effectively two or more rockets stacked on top of or attached next to each other. Taken together these are sometimes called a launch vehicle. Two stage rockets are quite common, but rockets with as many as five separate stages have been successfully launched.
  • When each of the stage run out of propellant they detach from the main rocket and fall thereby decreasing the total mass of the remaining rocket. This staging allows the thrust of the remaining stages to more easily accelerate the rocket to its final speed and height.
  • The first stage is at the bottom and is usually the largest, the second stage is above it and is usually the next largest and the last part houses the satellite or its payload.
  • In the typical case, the first stage and booster engines fire to propel the entire rocket upwards. When the boosters run out of fuel,they detached from the rest of the rocket (usually with some kind of small explosive charge) and fall away. The first stage then burns to completion and falls off. This leaves a smaller rocket, with the second stage on the bottom, which then fires. This process is repeated until the final stage's motor burns to completion.The fallen off stages are usually non-reusable and most often are directed to fall into oceans.