Word of the Week: Delta-V

A change in velocity (speed and/or direction). In spaceflight, Delta-V is a measure of the force applied to a vehicle in order to perform a maneuver, such as launching a rocket or changing a spacecraft’s orbit.

The ULA Atlas V rocket that launched OSIRIS-REx provided a Delta-V of about 12,000 mph (5,400 m/s) to put the spacecraft on course for its first Deep Space Maneuver. When the spacecraft conducted the maneuver in Dec. 2016, the main engine thrusters produced a Delta-V of 946 mph (431 m/s).

Credit: University of Arizona


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