The jettisoning of self-contained propulsion units after consumption of their propellants – a crucial technique for improving the mass ratio of space transport systems not using an environmental engine. Among the earliest pioneers of the idea appear to have been Conrad Haas and Johan Schmidlap in the 16th century. However, the first detailed theoretical analysis of staging was done by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky.
Serial staging was used, for example, on the Saturn V moon rockets. The Saturn V was a three stage rocket, which performed two staging maneuvers on its way to earth orbit. The discarded stages of the Saturn V were never retrieved. .
Some launchers, like the Titan III's and Delta II's, use both serial and parallel staging. The Titan III has a liquid-powered, two-stage Titan II for a sustainer and two solid rocket strap-ons at launch. After the solids are discarded, the sustainer engine of the Titan II burns until its fuel is exhausted. Then the second stage of the Titan II is burned, carrying the payload to orbit. The Titan III is another example of a three-stage rocket.
Related entries parallel staging
Related category ROCKETRY TERMINOLOGY
Source (text and illustrations): NASA
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