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The history of rocket vehicles goes back to the 13th century in China. From there developments occurred in Mongolia, India, Britain, America and Russia among many others.

In antiquity[]

A depiction of the "long serpent" rocket launcher from the 11th century book Wujing Zongyao. The holes in the frame are designed to keep the fire arrows separate.

The availability of black powder (gunpowder) to propel projectiles was a precursor to the development of the first solid rocket. Ninth century Chinese Taoist alchemists invented black powder while searching for the Elixir of life; this invention led to experiments in the form of weapons such as bombs, cannon, incendiary fire arrows and rocket-propelled fire arrows.

Exactly when the first flights of rockets occurred is contested. Some say that the first recorded use of a rocket in battle was by the Chinese in 1232 against the Mongol hordes. There were reports of fire arrows and 'iron pots' that could be heard for 5 leagues (25 km, or 15 miles) when they exploded upon impact, causing devastation for a radius of 600 meters (2,000 feet), apparently due to shrapnel.[1] The lowering of the iron pots may have been a way for a besieged army to blow up invaders. The fire arrows were either arrows with explosives attached, or arrows propelled by gunpowder, such as the Korean Hwacha.[2]

Less controversially, one of the earliest devices recorded that used internal-combustion rocket propulsion was the 'ground-rat,' a type of firework, recorded in 1264 as having frightened the Empress-Mother Kung Sheng at a feast held in her honor by her son the Emperor Lizong.[3]

Subsequently, one of the earliest texts to mention the use of rockets was the Huolongjing, written by the Chinese artillery officer Jiao Yu in the mid-14th century. This text also mentioned the use of the first known multistage rocket, the 'fire-dragon issuing from the water' (huo long chu shui), used mostly by the Chinese navy.[4] Frank H. Winter proposed in The Proceedings of the Twentieth and Twenty-First History Symposia of the International Academy of Astronautics[5] that southern China and the Laotian community rocket festivals might have been key in the subsequent spread of rocketry in the Orient.

Spread of rocket technology[]

Genghis Khan's Mongols spread Chinese technology

Rocket technology first became known to Europeans following their use by the Mongols, Genghis Khan and Ögedei Khan, when they conquered parts of Russia, Eastern, and Central Europe. The Mongolians had acquired the Chinese technology by conquest of the northern part of China and also by the subsequent employment of Chinese rocketry experts as mercenaries for the Mongol military. Reports of the Battle of Sejo in the year 1241 describe the use of rocket-like weapons by the Mongols against the Magyars.[6] Rocket technology also spread to Korea, with the 15th century wheeled hwacha that would launch singijeon rockets. These first Korean rockets had an amazingly long range at the time, and were designed and built by Byun Eee-Joong. They were just like arrows but had small explosives attached to the back, and were fired in swarms.

In 1250, the Norwegian Konungs skuggsjá mentions, in its military chapter, the use of "coal and sulphur" as the best weapon for ship-to-ship combat.[7]

Roger Bacon made one of the earliest mentions of gunpowder in Europe in 1267, in his work Epistola de secretis operibus artiis et naturae.[8] His studies of gunpowder greatly improved the range of rockets.[6] Bacon has been credited by some authors as the inventor of gunpowder (although the first to use it were Chinese), because around 1261 he developed the correct formula for gunpowder (75% of saltpeter, 15% of carbon and 10% of sulphur).[9] Jean Froissart had the idea of launching rockets through tubes, so that they could make more accurate flights. Froissart's idea is a forerunner of the modern bazooka.[6]

Additionally, the spread of rockets into Europe was also influenced by the Ottomans at the siege of Constantinople in 1453, although it is very likely that the Ottomans themselves were influenced by the Mongol invasions of the previous few centuries. In their history of rockets published on the Internet, NASA says "Rockets appear in Arab literature in 1258 A.D., describing Mongol invaders' use of them on February 15 to capture the city of Baghdad. Quick to learn, the Arabs adopted the rocket into their own arms inventory and, during the Seventh Crusade, used them against the French Army of King Louis IX in 1268."[6]

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 which are for rockets; he arrived to the same results of Bacon 13 years before, because if one takes the median of 17 of these 22 compositions for rockets (75% nitrates, 9.06% sulphur and 15.94% carbon), it is almost identical with the reported ideal recipe.[10] According to Ahmad Y Hassan, al-Rammah's recipes were more explosive than rockets used in China at the time.[11] He also invented a torpedo running on water with a rocket system filled with explosive materials.[12][13]

The name Rocket comes from the Italian Rocchetta (i.e. little fuse), a name of a small firecracker created by the Italian artificer Muratori in 1379.[14] Between 1529 and 1556 Conrad Haas wrote a book that described the concept of multi-stage rockets.

"Artis Magnae Artilleriae pars prima" ("Great Art of Artillery, the First Part", also known as "The Complete Art of Artillery"), first printed in Amsterdam in 1650, was translated to French in 1651, German in 1676, English and Dutch in 1729 and Polish in 1963. For over two centuries, this work of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth nobleman Kazimierz Siemienowicz[15] was used in Europe as a basic artillery manual. The book provided the standard designs for creating rockets, fireballs, and other pyrotechnic devices. It contained a large chapter on caliber, construction, production and properties of rockets (for both military and civil purposes), including multi-stage rockets, batteries of rockets, and rockets with delta wing stabilizers (instead of the common guiding rods).

The Mysore Rocket (Tipu Sultan Zindabad)[]

The first iron-cased and metal-cylinder rocket artillery, made from iron tubes, were developed by the weapon suppliers of Tipu Sultan, an Indian ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore, and his father Hyder Ali, in the 1780s. Tipu Sultan championed the use of mass attacks with rocket brigades within the army, and he wrote a military manual on it, the Fathul Mujahidin. He successfully used these metal-cylinder rockets against the larger forces of the British East India Company during the Anglo-Mysore Wars. The Mysore rockets of this period were much more advanced than what the British had seen, chiefly because of the use of iron tubes for holding the propellant; this enabled higher thrust and longer range for the missile (up to 2 km range). The effect of these weapons on the British during the Second, Third and Fourth Mysore Wars in 1792 was sufficiently impressive to inspire the British to develop their own rocket designs. Several Mysore rockets were sent to England, who then took an active interest in the technology and developed it further during the 19th century.[16]

According to Stephen Oliver Fought and John F. Guilmartin, Jr. in Encyclopædia Britannica (2008): "Hyder Ali, prince of Mysore, developed war rockets with an important change: the use of metal cylinders to contain the combustion powder. Although the hammered soft iron he used was crude, the bursting strength of the container of black powder was much higher than the earlier paper construction. Thus a greater internal pressure was possible, with a resultant greater thrust of the propulsive jet. The rocket body was lashed with leather thongs to a long bamboo stick. Range was perhaps up to three-quarters of a mile (more than a kilometre). Although individually these rockets were not accurate, dispersion error became less important when large numbers were fired rapidly in mass attacks. They were particularly effective against cavalry and were hurled into the air, after lighting, or skimmed along the hard dry ground. Hyder Ali's son, Tippu Sultan, continued to develop and expand the use of rocket weapons, reportedly increasing the number of rocket troops from 1,200 to a corps of 5,000. In battles at Seringapatam in 1792 and 1799 these rockets were used with considerable effect against the British."[17]

Although the technique was familiar to Europeans from the 17th century their use fell out of favor until the late 18th century, when Indian forces from Mysore led by Tipu Sultan invented iron rockets for use as rocket artillery against British forces in battle, which led to the British development of the Congreve rocket.[18] Ironically, the technology of metal-cylinder missiles developed by Tipu Sultan contributed to the defeat of his ally Napoleon in the Battle of Waterloo.[citation needed]

Accuracy of early rockets[]

The Congreve rocket

The major figure in the field at this time became William Congreve, son of the Comptroller of the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, London.[19] Under the influence of the Mysorean rockets from India, he developed the Congreve rocket. From there, the use of military rockets spread throughout Europe. At the Battle of Baltimore in 1814, the rockets fired on Fort McHenry by the rocket vessel HMS Erebus were the source of the rockets' red glare described by Francis Scott Key in The Star-Spangled Banner.[20] Rockets were also used in the Battle of Waterloo.[21]

Early rockets were very, very inaccurate. Without the use of spinning or any gimballing of the thrust, they had a strong tendency to veer sharply off course from the desired trajectory. The early British Congreve rockets[19] reduced this somewhat by attaching a long stick to the end of a rocket (similar to modern bottle rockets) to make it harder for the rocket to change course. The largest of the Congreve rockets was the 32-pound (14.5 kg) Carcass, which had a 15-foot (4.6 m) stick. Originally, sticks were mounted on the side, but this was later changed to mounting in the center of the rocket, reducing drag and enabling the rocket to be more accurately fired from a segment of pipe.

Congreve prepared a new propellant mixture, and developed a rocket motor with a strong iron tube with conical nose, weighing about 32 pounds (14.5 kilograms). The Royal Arsenal's first demonstration of solid fuel rockets was in 1805. The rockets were effectively used during the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812. Congreve published three books on rocketry.[22]

In 1815, Alexander Dmitrievich Zasyadko began his work on creating military gunpowder rockets. He constructed rocket-launching platforms, which allowed to fire in salvos (6 rockets at a time), and gun-laying devices. Zasyadko elaborated a tactic for military use of rocket weaponry. In 1820, Zasyadko was appointed head of the Petersburg Armory, Okhtensky Powder Factory, pyrotechnic laboratory and the first Highest Artillery School in Russia. He organized rocket production in a special rocket workshop and created the first rocket sub-unit in the Russian army.[23]

The accuracy problem was mostly solved in 1844 when William Hale[24] modified the rocket design so that thrust was slightly vectored, causing the rocket to spin along its axis of travel like a bullet. The Hale rocket removed the need for a rocket stick, travelled further due to reduced air resistance, and was far more accurate.

Early manned rocketry[]

Opel RAK.1 in flight.

According to legend, a manned rocket sled with 47 gunpowder-filled rockets was attempted in China by Wan Hu in the 16th Century.[25] The alleged flight is said to have been interrupted by an explosion at the start, and the pilot did not seem to have survived (he was never found). There are no known Chinese sources for this event, and the earliest known account is an unsourced reference in a book by an American, Herbert S. Zim in 1945.[25]

In Ottoman Turkey in 1633, according to one account, Lagari Hasan Çelebi launched in a 7 winged rocket using 50 okka (140 lbs) of gunpowder from Sarayburnu, the point below Topkapı Palace, and made a successful landing – winning him a position in the Ottoman army.[26] As told, the flight was accomplished as a part of celebrations performed for the birth of Ottoman Emperor Murat IV's daughter and was rewarded by the sultan; there are no known sultanate records of the event or reward. The flight was estimated to have lasted about 200 seconds and the maximum height reached around 300 meters.[citation needed]

On 15 March 1928, Fritz von Opel tested his first rocket-powered car, the RAK.1 and achieved a top speed of 75 km/h (47 mph) in it, proving the concept. Less than two months later, he reached a speed of 230 km/h (143 mph) in the RAK.2, driven by 24 solid-fuel rockets. The Lippisch Ente a rocket-powered glider was produced on June 11, 1928, piloted by Fritz Stamer. The aircraft exploded on its second test flight, before von Opel had a chance to pilot it himself, so he commissioned in a new aircraft, also called the RAK.1 from Julius Hatry, and flew it at Frankfurt-am-Main on 30 September 1929. In the meantime, another mishap had claimed the RAK.3, a rocket-powered railway car powered by 30 solid-fuel rockets and which reached a speed of 254 km/h (157 mph).

Theories of interplanetary rocketry[]


Konstantin Tsiolkovsky published the first work on space travel

In 1903, high school mathematics teacher Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (1857–1935) published Исследование мировых пространств реактивными приборами[27] (The Exploration of Cosmic Space by Means of Reaction Devices), the first serious scientific work on space travel. The Tsiolkovsky rocket equation—the principle that governs rocket propulsion—is named in his honor (although it had been discovered previously[28]). He also advocated the use of liquid hydrogen and oxygen as fuel, calculating their maximum exhaust velocity. His work was essentially unknown outside the Soviet Union, but inside the country it inspired further research, experimentation and the formation of the Society for Studies of Interplanetary Travel in 1924.

In 1912, Robert Esnault-Pelterie published a lecture on rocket theory and interplanetary travel. He independently derived Tsiolkovsky's rocket equation, did basic calculations about the energy required to make round trips to the Moon and planets, and he proposed the use of atomic power (i.e. radium) to power a jet drive.

Robert Goddard

Robert Goddard began a serious analysis of rockets in 1912, concluding that conventional solid-fuel rockets needed to be improved in three ways. First, fuel should be burned in a small combustion chamber, instead of building the entire propellant container to withstand the high pressures. Second, rockets could be arranged in stages. And third, the exhaust speed (and thus the efficiency) could be greatly increased to beyond the speed of sound by using a De Laval nozzle. He patented these concepts in 1914.[29] He also independently developed the mathematics of rocket flight. He proved that a rocket would work in a vacuum, which many scientists did not believe at the time.

In 1920, Goddard published these ideas and experimental results in A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes.[30] The work included remarks about sending a solid-fuel rocket to the Moon, which attracted worldwide attention and was both praised and ridiculed. A New York Times editorial suggested that Professor Goddard: "does not know of the relation of action to reaction, and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react—to say that would be absurd" but that "there are such things as intentional mistakes or oversights."[31]

Goddard's historical impact was diminished by the fact that he worked much in secret, though he offered his services to the military but was mostly ignored. This secrecy was prompted in part by his bad experience with the press and in part by his belief that his ideas were being plagiarized by foreign scientists. He was also in bad health and did not want to waste time helping amateurs and arguing with other scientists who did not understand this new science.[32]

In 1923, Hermann Oberth[33] (1894–1989) published Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen ("The Rocket into Planetary Space"), a version of his doctoral thesis, after the University of Munich rejected it.

In 1924, Tsiolkovsky also wrote about multi-stage rockets, in 'Cosmic Rocket Trains'[34]

Modern rocketry[]

Pre–World War II[]

Robert Goddard and the first liquid-fueled rocket.

Modern rockets were born when Goddard attached a supersonic (de Laval) nozzle to a liquid-fueled rocket engine's combustion chamber. These nozzles turn the hot gas from the combustion chamber into a cooler, hypersonic, highly directed jet of gas, more than doubling the thrust and raising the engine efficiency from 2% to 64%.[35][36] Early rockets had been grossly inefficient because of the thermal energy that was wasted in the exhaust gases. In 1926, Robert Goddard launched the world's first liquid-fueled rocket in Auburn, Massachusetts. During the 1920s, a number of rocket research organizations appeared in the United States, Austria, Britain, Czechoslovakia, France, Italy, Germany, and Russia. In the mid-1920s, German scientists had begun experimenting with rockets which used liquid propellants capable of reaching relatively high altitudes and distances.

1927 the German car manufacturer Opel began to research with rockets together with Mark Valier and the rocket builder Friedrich Wilhelm Sander. In 1928, Fritz von Opel drove with a rocket car, the Opel-RAK.1 on the Opel raceway in Rüsselsheim, Germany. In 1929 von Opel started at the Frankfurt-Rebstock airport with the Opel-Sander RAK 1-airplane. This was maybe the first flight with a manned rocket-aircraft. In 1927 and also in Germany, a team of amateur rocket engineers had formed the Verein für Raumschiffahrt (German Rocket Society, or VfR), and in 1931 launched a liquid propellant rocket (using oxygen and gasoline).[37]

Gas Dynamics Laboratory was established on May 15, 1929 to develop electronic (ETD) and liquid (LRE) rocket engines.

GIRD was established on September 15, 1931. There were a number of amateur groups and solitary researchers in existence, but GIRD was the world's first large professional rocketry program.

From 1931 to 1937, the most extensive scientific work on rocket engine design occurred in Leningrad, at the Gas Dynamics Laboratory. Well-funded and staffed, over 10 experimental engines were built under the direction of Valentin Glushko. The work included regenerative cooling, hypergolic propellant ignition, and fuel injector designs that included swirling and bi-propellant mixing injectors. However, the work was curtailed by Glushko's arrest during Stalinist purges in 1938. Similar work was also done by the Austrian professor Eugen Sänger who worked on rocket-powered spaceplanes such as Silbervogel (sometimes called the 'antipodal' bomber.)[38]

On 16 May 1932 Mikhail Tukhachevsky filed a memorandum to the effect that GIRD and the State Gas Dynamics Laboratory (GDL) of Leningrad should be combined, and the result was the Reaction-Engine Scientific Research Institute (RNII), founded on 21 September 1933.[39]

On November 12, 1932 at a farm in Stockton NJ, the American Interplanetary Society's attempt to static fire their first rocket (based on German Rocket Society designs) fails in a fire.[40]

In 1932, the Reichswehr (which in 1935 became the Wehrmacht) began to take an interest in rocketry. Artillery restrictions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles limited Germany's access to long distance weaponry. Seeing the possibility of using rockets as long-range artillery fire, the Wehrmacht initially funded the VfR team, but seeing that their focus was strictly scientific, created its own research team. At the behest of military leaders, Wernher von Braun, at the time a young aspiring rocket scientist, joined the military (followed by two former VfR members) and developed long-range weapons for use in World War II by Nazi Germany, notably the A-series of rockets, which led to the infamous V-2 rocket (initially called A4).[41]

World War II[]

A German V-2 rocket on a Meillerwagen.

Layout of a V-2 rocket

In 1943, production of the V-2 rocket began. The V-2 had an operational range of 300 km (190 mi) and carried a 1000 kg (2204 lb) warhead, with an amatol explosive charge. Highest point of altitude of its flight trajectory is 90 km. The vehicle was only different in details from most modern rockets, with turbopumps, inertial guidance and many other features. Thousands were fired at various Allied nations, mainly England, as well as Belgium and France. While they could not be intercepted, their guidance system design and single conventional warhead meant that the V-2 was insufficiently accurate against military targets. The later versions however, were more accurate, sometimes within metres, and could be devastating.[42] 2,754 people in England were killed, and 6,523 were wounded before the launch campaign was terminated. While the V-2 did not significantly affect the course of the war, it provided a lethal demonstration of the potential for guided rockets as weapons.

Under Projekt Amerika Nazi Germany also tried to develop and use the first submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBMs) and the first intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) A9/A10 Amerika-Raketen[43] to bomb New York and other American cities. The tests of SLBM-variants of the A4 rocket was achieved with U-boat submarines towing launch platforms. The second stage of the A9/A10 rocket was tested a few times in January, February and March 1945.

In parallel with the guided missile programme in Nazi Germany, rockets were also used on aircraft, either for assisting horizontal take-off (JATO), vertical take-off (Bachem Ba 349 "Natter") or for powering them (Me 163,[44] etc.). During the war Germany also developed several guided and unguided air-to-air, ground-to-air and ground-to-ground missiles (see list of World War II guided missiles of Germany).

The Allies' rocket programmes were much less sophisticated, relying mostly on unguided missiles like the Soviet Katyusha rocket.

Post World War II[]

Dornberger and von Braun after being captured by the Allies

At the end of World War II, competing Russian, British, and U.S. military and scientific crews raced to capture technology and trained personnel from the German rocket program at Peenemünde. Russia and Britain had some success, but the United States benefited the most. The US captured a large number of German rocket scientists (many of whom were members of the Nazi Party, including von Braun) and brought them to the United States as part of Operation Paperclip.[45] In America, the same rockets that were designed to rain down on Britain were used instead by scientists as research vehicles for developing the new technology further. The V-2 evolved into the American Redstone rocket, used in the early space program.[46]

After the war, rockets were used to study high-altitude conditions, by radio telemetry of temperature and pressure of the atmosphere, detection of cosmic rays, and further research; notably for the Bell X-1 to break the sound barrier. This continued in the U.S. under von Braun and the others, who were destined to become part of the U.S. scientific complex.

R-7 8K72 "Vostok"

Independently, research continued in the Soviet Union under the leadership of the chief designer Sergei Korolev.[47] With the help of German technicians, the V-2 was duplicated and improved as the R-1, R-2 and R-5 missiles. German designs were abandoned in the late 1940s, and the foreign workers were sent home. A new series of engines built by Glushko and based on inventions of Aleksei Mihailovich Isaev formed the basis of the first ICBM, the R-7.[48] The R-7 launched the first satellite- Sputnik, and later Yuri Gagarin-the first man into space, and the first lunar and planetary probes. This rocket is still in use today. These epoch marking events attracted the attention of top politicians, along with more money for further research.

One problem that had not been solved was reentry- it had been shown that an orbital vehicle easily had enough kinetic energy to vapourise itself, and yet it was known that meteorites can make it down to the ground. The mystery was solved in 1951 by H. Julian Allen and A. J. Eggers, Jr. of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) made the counterintuitive discovery[49] that a blunt shape (high drag) made the most effective heat shield, and this permitted recovery of orbital vehicles.

Prototype Version of the Mk-2 Reentry Vehicle (RV) was derived from Blunt Body theory

The Allen and Eggers discovery, though initially treated as a military secret, was eventually published in 1958.[50] The Blunt Body theory made possible the heat shield designs that were embodied in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space capsules, enabling astronauts to survive the fiery reentry into Earth's atmosphere.

Rockets became extremely important militarily in the form of modern intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) when it was realised that nuclear weapons carried on a rocket vehicle were essentially not defensible against once launched, and ICBM/Launch vehicles such as the R-7, Atlas and Titan became the delivery platform of choice for these weapons. Fueled partly by the Cold War, the 1960s became the decade of rapid development of rocket technology particularly in the Soviet Union (Vostok, Soyuz, Proton) and in the United States (e.g. the X-15[51] and X-20 Dyna-Soar[52] aircraft). There was also significant research in other countries, such as Britain, Japan, Australia, etc. and their growing use for Space exploration, with pictures returned from the far side of the Moon and unmanned flights for Mars exploration.

In America the manned programmes, Project Mercury, Project Gemini and later the Apollo programme culminated in 1969 with the first manned via the Saturn V, causing the New York Times to retract their earlier editorial implying that spaceflight couldn't work:

"Further investigation and experimentation have confirmed the findings of Isaac Newton in the 17th century and it is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error."[53]

In the 1970s America made further lunar landings, before abandoning the Apollo launch vehicle. The replacement vehicle, the partially reusable 'Space Shuttle' was intended to be cheaper,[54] but this large reduction in costs was largely not achieved. Meanwhile in 1973, the expendable Ariane programme was begun, a launcher that by the year 2000 would capture much of the geosat market.


The word "missile" can mean any thrown or fired object (see missile), but often it means a weapon used by the military, which is a rocket that explodes on impact.

Current day[]

Rockets remain a popular military weapon. The use of large battlefield rockets of the V-2 type has given way to guided missiles. However rockets are often used by helicopters and light aircraft for ground attack, being more powerful than machine guns, but without the recoil of a heavy cannon and In the 1950s there was a brief vogue for air-to-air rockets, ending with the AIR-2 'Genie' nuclear rocket,[55] but by the early 1960s these had largely been abandoned in favor of air-to-air missiles. Current artillery systems as the MLRS or BM-30 Smerch launch multiple rockets to saturate battlefield targets with munitions.


Economically, rocketry is the enabler of all space technologies, particularly satellites - many of which impact people's everyday lives in almost countless ways, such as navigation,[56] telecommunications, and weather forecasting.

Scientifically, rocketry has opened a window on our universe, allowing the launch of space probes to explore our solar system, satellites to view the Earth itself, and space-based telescopes to obtain a clearer view of the rest of the universe.[57]

However, in the minds of much of the public, the most important use of rockets is perhaps manned spaceflight.[citation needed] Vehicles such as the Space Shuttle for scientific research, the Soyuz for orbital tourism and SpaceShipOne for suborbital tourism may show a trend towards greater commercialisation of manned rocketry,[58] away from government funding, and towards more widespread access to space.

See also[]


  1. "A Brief History of Rocketry". Retrieved 2012-06-14. 
  2. (正大九年)其守城之具有火砲名「震天雷」者,铁罐盛药,以火点之,砲起火发,其声如雷,闻百里外,所爇围半亩之上,火点著甲铁皆透。(蒙古)大兵又为牛皮洞,直至城下,掘城为龛,间可容人,则城上不可奈何矣。人有献策者,以铁绳悬「震天雷」者,顺城而下,至掘处火发,人与牛皮皆碎迸无迹。又「飞火枪」,注药以火发之,辄前烧十余步,人亦不敢近。(蒙古)大兵惟畏此二物云。(Rough Translation: [Year 1232] Among the weaponry at the defense city [Kaifeng] are the "thundercrash", which were made of iron pot, and filled with drugs [black powder], when lighted with fire, it exploded, making a noise like thunder. It could be heard over 100 li, and could toasted more than a third of an acre, moreover it could penetrate the armours and iron. The [Mongol] soldiers employed a siege carriage cloaked with cowskin and advance to the city below, they grubbed a niche on the city-wall, which could spare a man between. The [Jin] defenders atop did not know what to do, later an advice had offered. The pot was then dropped with an iron string from the fortress, it reached to the niche area and exploded, men and carriage were blown to pieces without trace. They also have the "flying fire-lance", which was infused with drug [black powder] and ignited it, it flames within a range of over ten paces on the front, men are not dare to near. It is say that the [Mongol] soldiers only terrify by these two objects.) History of Jin ch. 123
  3. Crosby, Alfred W. (2002). Throwing Fire: Projectile Technology Through History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 100–103. ISBN 0-521-79158-8. 
  4. Needham, Volume 5, Part 7, 510.
  5. Frank H. Winter, "The `Boun Bang Fai' Rockets of Thailand and Laos:", in Lloyd H. Cornett, Jr., ed., History of Rocketry and Astronautics - Proceedings of the Twentieth and Twenty-First History Symposia of the International Academy of Astronautics, AAS History Series, Vol. 15 (Univelt Inc.: San Diego, 1993), pp. 3-24.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 "NASA Spacelink - "A brief history of rocketry"". Retrieved 2006-08-19. 
  7. "King's Mirror, Chapter XXXVII: The duties, activities and amusements of the Royal Guardsmen". Retrieved 2008-07-20. , from the Konungs skuggsjá.
  8. Chase, Kenneth (2003), Firearms: A Global History to 1700, Cambridge University Press,
  9. Kendall F. Haven, 100 greatest science inventions of all time p.30-32
  10. Hassan, Ahmad Y. "Gunpowder Composition for Rockets and Cannon in Arabic Military Treatises In Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries". History of Science and Technology in Islam. Retrieved 2008-03-29. "The book contains 107 recipes for gunpowder. There are 22 recipes for rockets (tayyarat, sing. tayyar). Among the remaining compositions some are for military uses and some are for fireworks. The gunpowder composition of seventeen rockets is shown in the following table. Five rockets are not included because their ingredients included other materials....It is reported by Hall that most authorities regard 75 percent potassium nitrate, 10 percent sulphur, and 15 percent carbon to be the best recipe. Al-Rammah's median composition for 17 rockets is 75 nitrates, 9.06 sulphur and 15.94 carbon which is almost identical with the reported best recipe." 
  11. Hassan, Ahmad Y. "Transfer Of Islamic Technology To The West, Part III: Technology Transfer in the Chemical Industries". History of Science and Technology in Islam. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  12. Ahmad Y Hassan (1987). "Chemical Technology in Arabic Military Treatises". New York Academy of Sciences. pp. 153–166 [160]. 
  13. Demonstrated in What the Ancients Did for Us, "Episode one: The Islamic World"
  14. Von Braun, Wernher & Frederick I. Ordway, III. HISTORY OF ROCKETRY AND SPACE TRAVEL, 1966
  15. Tadeusz Nowak "Kazimierz Siemienowicz, ca.1600-ca.1651", MON Press, Warsaw 1969, p.182
  16. "Kalam wants to know how Tipu built rockets 200 years ago". India. 21 July 2006. Retrieved 16 December 2011. 
  17. Frederick C. Durant III, Stephen Oliver Fought, John F. Guilmartin, Jr.. "Rocket and missile system". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 19 December 2011. 
  18. "Third World Missiles 1". Australia. 1 April 2003. Retrieved 16 December 2011. 
  19. 19.0 19.1  "Congreve, William (1772-1828)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
  20. British Rockets at the US National Parks Service, Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. Accessed February 2008.
  21. History of the Rocket - 1804 to 1815 by Gareth Glover
  22. Rockets and Missiles By A. Bowdoin Van Riper
  23. John Pike. "Marine Corps Artillery Rockets: Back Through The Future". Retrieved 2012-06-14. 
  24. "Smithsonian article on Hale rockets". 
  25. 25.0 25.1 Rockets and Jets by American author Herbert S. Zim in 1945
  26. Winter, Frank H. (1992). "Who First Flew in a Rocket?", Journal of the British Interplanetary Society 45 (July 1992), p. 275-80
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