Conceptual Physics (12th Edition)

Published by Addison-Wesley
ISBN 10: 0321909100
ISBN 13: 978-0-32190-910-7

Chapter 10 - Think and Explain: 62

Answer

The satellite's tangential speed keeps it in orbit. When the retro rockets are fired in the forward direction, the satellite slows momentarily. It no longer has enough tangential speed to stay in orbit at that radius, and so spirals inward. Once it is no longer in a circular orbit, a component of gravity acts in the satellite's direction of motion. This does positive work and the satellite loses PE, and gains KE and speed.
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