The answer to your question is yes, yes, yes, and even more yes! In
order to put a spaceship into space, NASA has to use lots and lots of
physics. You can think of physics as "how things work." When they
launch a space shuttle or a satellite or anything, they have to
understand a whole bunch about how things work, because if they don't,
their shuttle could go the wrong way and not be able to come back, or
it may never even get into space.
First, they have to figure out what the best way to launch
something is in order for it to escape the Earth's gravity and get into
space. Then, if they want it to stay in orbit (like if it were a
satellite), they have to use physics to figure out just how much fuel
to fire off and which directions to do it in. Similarly, if they want
to send a probe to another planet (say.. Jupiter), they have to use
physics and astronomy (astronomy is sort of like the physics of the
stars and planets) so that they would know where the planet will be and
where and how to send the probe so that it will get there.
Once they've got what they want where they want it, they have to be
able to get it back (if they want to). For that, they have to use
physics to determine how to send it through the atmosphere so it won't
burn up, and how to bring it back to the ground in such a way that it
won't hit the ground so fast that it crashes. For instance, if they
wanted to land a satellite in the Pacific ocean, they would have to do
different things than if they wanted to land a shuttle on a runway in
Texas... and that would take physics!
Basically, in order to send anything into space, you have to know lots and lots of physics! And you have to be able to use it!
(published on 10/22/2007)