Classroom Activity

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Key Topics: Circles and Ellipses

Students will describe the circular orbits of the space shuttle and the International Space Station by writing the equations of the orbits using distance data from the center of the Earth. Students will also predict the trajectory of the space shuttle as it rendezvous’ with the International Space Station using the properties of an ellipse.

Students will
  • write an equation of an ellipse in standard form;
  • calculate the lengths of semi-major and semi-minor axes;
  • calculate the distance of the foci;
  • calculate eccentricity; and
  • write an equation of a circle.


Files for use with the TI-Nspire™
› Rendezvous For Two TI_Nspire Educator Edition (PDF 376 KB)
› Rendezvous For Two TI_Nspire Student Edition (PDF 303 KB)
Note: The following file is a software specific file for Texas Instrument Nspire calculators.
› Rendezvous For Two TI_Nspire Document (TNS 194 KB)

Required Media
› VIDEO: Real World: Calculating Shuttle Launch Windows