When trying to launch a vehicle into orbit, why is it that you always see NASA and others using rocketry? Wouldn't it be easier to have an aircraft type vehicle that slowly climbs in altitude over distance instead of using a rocket that goes straight up?
I could see that perhaps the fuel consumption might be greater that way, but it seems it would be much safer and more controlled.
Is there something about the air at the highest altitudes (thinner, not enough oxygen, etc) that makes this impractical or are there other physics reasons why a rocket going fairly perpendicular to the earth works better?
Edit: Please do not misunderstand me: I am not questioning that rocketry is the best way to do it, I am trying to understand why it is the best way to do it. I am sure NASA et al knows what they are doing, I am just trying to understand it for myself.
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