The question of the week: "Who invented the first rocket?" – Goose liquor

The question of the week: "Who invented the first rocket?"

Every week we answer questions on all sorts of topics. Today Jerrit E. from Berlin asks us: "Who invented the first rocket? Here you will find out the answer

Today we connect rockets with moon flights and the space shuttle. But the first guaranteed rocket launches took place in the 13th century at the Battle of Kai-Keng in China! In the fight against the invading Mongols were fired by black powder-powered missiles against the attackers.

They were basically similar to our fireworks rockets. All salvoes were shot down against the attackers. The attacking Mongols were terrified by this flying, smoking and stinking weapon.

A flying lance 1555 in Sibiu

From 1555 the first launch of a rocket from Europe is handed down. He took place in the Romanian Sibiu. This missile already consisted of three levels, just as modern rockets consist of several levels. He also had triangular wings, so he was more stable in the air.

Photo: Robert Goddard, rocket pioneer from the USA. He developed the first rocket powered by liquid fuel.

The so-called flying lance was powered by a mixture of different combustible powders. The designers at that time experimented even with different compositions of the
Propellant charge.

In England and Austria was experimented with rockets as a weapon in the early 19th century. Among other things, the rocket developed by William Congreve was used at the Battle of Leipzig.

Photo: The Sputnik, the first satellite orbiting the earth. He triggered the so-called Sputnik shock, which eventually led to the lunar program of the United States.

"The Rocket into Interplanetary Space"

This is the title of the doctoral thesis of Hermann Oberth. In it he describes his vision of space rockets, which should bring people into space. He carried out important experiments with rockets at the beginning of the 20th century. In the US, it was Robert Goddard who pioneered the field. His rockets were first powered by liquid fuel.

In the 1920s, they also experimented with Opel rocket-propelled missiles. There were also developed measuring devices with which one could determine the thrust. The thrust indicates the weight a rocket can carry.

Illustration: As early as 1903, the Russian Ziolkowski developed the concept of a multi-stage rocket. This can fly higher and carry more payload than single-stage rockets. Here you see the principle illustrated.

Again it was the war that led to further research. 1942 started in Peenemünde from the first controllable and stable flying large rocket. It was the forerunner of the infamous V2 rocket, whose target was mostly English cities and caused panic among the population.

Nazis, NASA and Sputnik

After the war, the Allies continued to use Nazi research. Many scientists were brought to the United States as part of Operation Paperclip.
There they continued to research and eventually developed in succession, among other things, the Saturn rockets, with which finally landed the first man on the moon. Wernher von Braun was one of those scientists who worked for NASA after the war in the US.

The launch of a Saturn V rocket. At the top of the rocket is the space capsule Apollo 8. This was the first mission that brought people to the moon. The astronauts were the first to see the back of the moon.
However, the Soviet Union had previously scared the Americans a lot. Because the Sputnik was the first missile orbiting Earth in orbit. In the USSR it was especially Konstantin Eduardowitsch Ziolkowski, who made important research contributions. So he developed in 1903 the so-called basic rocket equation, with which one can calculate the ratio of rocket mass and fuel mass.

He also developed the concept of a multi-stage rocket. In the process, gradually empty tanks and engines of a rocket are blasted off. This allows large loads to be transported into space. Gradually, the rocket is getting lighter and lighter and can bring more payload to higher altitudes than single-stage rockets. Only then could you finally reach the moon.

By the way …

The word rocket derives from the Italian rocchetta for spindle and refers to the elongated form of a rocket.

Text: -jj- 28.9.2012 // Pictures: Multi-Level Scheme NASA / PD; Goddard NASA / PD; Sputnik NASA / PD; Saturn V NASA / PD;

Note: All pictures and links in the archive have been removed