The question could seems stupid, but i think that best moment to launch a rocket is when temperature is lowest in order to achieve the best performance in a reaction engine. I do not know if there is some explanation to this or is just because that performance degradation is irrelebant. Thank you for your time.

  • $\begingroup$ Duplicate of Effects of atmospheric conditions on rocket performance?. $\endgroup$
    – Bianfable
    Oct 11, 2019 at 16:03
  • $\begingroup$ I would think that summer would be the best time to launch as warmer temperatures mean less dense air and less drag. $\endgroup$ Oct 11, 2019 at 16:22
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to aviation.SE! I think you'll get a better answer on space. SE. There may be many reasons why Apollo 11 launched when it did, including political ones. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Oct 11, 2019 at 16:23

1 Answer 1


The temperature of the environment doesn't have a significant impact on the performance of a rocket engine. Air breathing engines have better performance in cold air because the mass density is higher at a given pressure, which allows them to ingest more air, and because the thermodynamic efficiency of a heat engine increases when the temperature of the cold side decreases.

A rocket uses oxidizer from a tank, and the thermodynamic cold side temperature is the temperature of the propellant before it gets burned. Thus, atmospheric temperature doesn't change rocket performance like it does for air breathing engines.

Remember that rockets aren't pushing against the air, they're pushing against their own exhaust. Atmospheric pressure slows down the escape of the exhaust, reducing thrust. Rockets will produce more thrust in a vacuum than they will in the atmosphere.

The main concern for timing the launch of Apollo 11 was making it happen as soon as possible, both to beat President Kennedy's promise to land a person on the moon before the end of the decade, and to beat the USSR to the moon.


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