language-icon Old Web
Sign In


A rocket (from Italian rocchetto 'bobbin') is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle that obtains thrust from a rocket engine. Rocket engine exhaust is formed entirely from propellant carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction and push rockets forward simply by expelling their exhaust in the opposite direction at high speed, and can therefore work in the vacuum of space. In fact, rockets work more efficiently in space than in an atmosphere. Multistage rockets are capable of attaining escape velocity from Earth and therefore can achieve unlimited maximum altitude. Compared with airbreathing engines, rockets are lightweight and powerful and capable of generating large accelerations. To control their flight, rockets rely on momentum, airfoils, auxiliary reaction engines, gimballed thrust, momentum wheels, deflection of the exhaust stream, propellant flow, spin, or gravity. Rockets for military and recreational uses date back to at least 13th-century China. Significant scientific, interplanetary and industrial use did not occur until the 20th century, when rocketry was the enabling technology for the Space Age, including setting foot on the Earth's moon. Rockets are now used for fireworks, weaponry, ejection seats, launch vehicles for artificial satellites, human spaceflight, and space exploration. Chemical rockets are the most common type of high power rocket, typically creating a high speed exhaust by the combustion of fuel with an oxidizer. The stored propellant can be a simple pressurized gas or a single liquid fuel that disassociates in the presence of a catalyst (monopropellants), two liquids that spontaneously react on contact (hypergolic propellants), two liquids that must be ignited to react, a solid combination of fuel with oxidizer (solid fuel), or solid fuel with liquid oxidizer (hybrid propellant system). Chemical rockets store a large amount of energy in an easily released form, and can be very dangerous. However, careful design, testing, construction and use minimizes risks. The first gunpowder-powered rockets evolved in medieval China under the Song dynasty by the 13th century. The Mongols adopted Chinese rocket technology and the invention spread via the Mongol invasions to the Middle East and to Europe in the mid-13th century. Rockets are recorded in use by the Song navy in a military exercise dated to 1245. Internal-combustion rocket propulsion is mentioned in a reference to 1264, recording that the 'ground-rat', a type of firework, had frightened the Empress-Mother Gongsheng at a feast held in her honor by her son the Emperor Lizong. Subsequently, rockets are included in the military treatise Huolongjing, also known as the Fire Drake Manual, written by the Chinese artillery officer Jiao Yu in the mid-14th century. This text mentions the first known multistage rocket, the 'fire-dragon issuing from the water' (Huo long chu shui), thought to have been used by the Chinese navy. Medieval and early modern rockets were used militarily as incendiary weapons in sieges. Between 1270 and 1280, Hasan al-Rammah wrote al-furusiyyah wa al-manasib al-harbiyya (The Book of Military Horsemanship and Ingenious War Devices), which included 107 gunpowder recipes, 22 of them for rockets.In Europe, Konrad Kyeser described rockets in his military treatise Bellifortis around 1405. The name 'rocket' comes from the Italian rocchetta, meaning 'bobbin' or 'little spindle', given due to the similarity in shape to the bobbin or spool used to hold the thread to be fed to a spinning wheel.Leonhard Fronsperger and Conrad Haas adopted the Italian term into German in the mid-16th century; 'rocket' appears in English by the early 17th century.Artis Magnae Artilleriae pars prima, an important early modern work on rocket artillery, by Kazimierz Siemienowicz, was first printed in Amsterdam in 1650. The Mysorean rockets were the first successful iron-cased rockets, developed in the late 18th century in the Kingdom of Mysore (part of present-day India) by Tipu Sultan. The Congreve rocket was a British weapon designed and developed by Sir William Congreve in 1804. This rocket was based directly on the Mysorean rockets, used compressed powder and was fielded in the Napoleonic Wars. It was Congreve rockets that Francis Scott Key was referring to when he wrote of the 'rockets' red glare' while held captive on a British ship that was laying siege to Fort McHenry in 1814. Together, the Mysorean and British innovations increased the effective range of military rockets from 100 to 2,000 yards.

[ "Astronomy", "Mechanical engineering", "Aerospace engineering", "Aeronautics", "Fusee", "Eruca", "Sounding rocket", "rocket motor", "Rocket engine" ]
Parent Topic
Child Topic
    No Parent Topic