History of Rockets

History of Rockets

Archytas' Bird

420 B.C.

Bird Propelled by steam created by Archytas

Hero Engine

10 A.D. - 70 A.D

Jet propulsion was employed in a steam engine.

Chinese Fire Arrows

1232 A.D.

The Chinese made arrows with rockets to propel them

Roger Bacon

1292 A.D.

Roger bacon wrote about gun powder, "We can, with saltpeter and other substances, compose artificially a fire"

Rockets go to War


For centuries to come, rockets competed with cannons as the weapon of choice for war.

Wan Hu

1501 - 1600

Wan Hu Shot himself into space by sitting on a chair with rockets attached. He undoubtedly died in the attempt, but every one thought that he was "The Man on the Moon"

Galileo Galilei

1564 - 1642

He proved that an object in motion does not need the continuous application of force to keep moving.

Kazimierz Siemienowicz,

1600 - 1651

He published a design for multistage rockets that was to become a fundamental rocket technology for rockets heading for outer space

Newton’s Laws of Motion

1642 - 1727

English scientist Sir Isaac Newton condensed all rocket science into three elegant scientific laws.

Colonel William Congreve

1772 - 1828

William Congreve took charge of British military rocket companies

Jules Verne

1828 - 1905

The dream of traveling through space was brought to life by French science fiction writer Jules Verne.

Konstantin E. Tsiolkovski

1857 - 1935

Tsiolkovski advocated liquid propellant rocket engines, orbital space stations, solar energy, and colonization of the Solar System.

Hermann Oberth

1894 - 1989

The Book Die Rakete zu den Planetanraumen (By Rocket to Space) explained the mathematics of spaceflight

Gene Roddenberry

1912 - 1991

He created Star Trek witch promoted space travel

Dr. Wernher von Braun

1912 - 1977

One of the leading figures in the development of pre-war Germany’s rocket program and the development of the V2 missile

Rocket Experimeters, Early Twentieth Century

1920 - 1930

Amateur Rocketeers and Scientists attempted to use rockets for airplanes racing cars, boats, bicycles with wings, etc.

Robert H. Goddard


American college professor and scientist Robert Goddard built and flew the world’s first liquid propellant rocket on March 16, 1926.

Vergeltungswaffe* 2 - V2


*retribution weapon
In the late 1930, the German Verein Fur Raumschiffart Society for space travel evolved into the team that built and flew the most advanced rocket for the time, the V2

Flying bombs

1939 - 1945

Rockets graduated from novelties and dream flying machines to sophisticated weapons of destruction.

Bumper Project

May 13, 1948

During six flights the larges two stage rocket launched to date in the United States reached an altitude of almost 400 kilometers



It was adapted to carry John Glenn and three other Mercury astronauts to space and has since been used for many commercial, scientific, and military satellite launches and interplanetary missions

The Worlds First Artificial Satellite

October 4, 1957

Sputnik II reached space with a living passenger. Lakia, A small dog orbited earth for a few hours. She led the way for all humans that followed

Explorer 1

January 31, 1958

The Satellite was launched atop the Juno 1, a modified Jupiter c booster.

Deep Space

1959 - 2005

Upgraded versions of Titans lofted heavy satellites into Earth orbit and propelled important spacecraft to other planets


1959 - 1968

In 199 flights, the air-launched rocket plane broke many flight records

Delta Family


the American Delta rocket is one of the most versatile of the commercial and military payload launch rockets

Sounding Rockets

1961 - 2013

The Canadian– designed Black Brant sounding rocket has been flying since 1961 and has successfully completed over 800 flights carrying small payloads such as cameras, instruments, and microgravity experiments

Yuri Gagarin Goes Into Orbit

April 12, 1961

Space became the domain of humans with the launch of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.

Freedom 7

May 5, 1961

American astronaut Alan Shepherd, Jr., lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, inside his Freedom 7 Mercury space capsule

Moon Rocket

may 8, 1961

Just days after Alan Shepard’s flight, President John F. Kennedy addressed a joint session of Congress and challenged America to send an American to the Moon and return him safely before the end of the decade.

Glenn Orbits Earth


The Atlas, astronaut John H. Glenn, Jr., became the first American to go into orbit

Preparing for the Moon


Project Gemini followed the Mercury missions. The Gemini space capsule, riding on top of a Titan missile, contained two astronauts

“One Small Step...”

July 20, 1969

10:56 p.m. EDT, July 20, 1969: American astronaut Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon



Using a modified third stage of the Saturn V rocket, the United States finally launched its first space station, called Skylab, into Earth orbit in 1973

Smaller Saturn


The Saturn V rocket was capable of launching 117,900 kilograms (260,000 pounds) into low Earth orbit and 40,800 kilograms (90,000 pounds) to the Moon.

Thirty Years

1981 - 2011

The space shuttle was a new concept for carrying crews and payloads into low Earth orbit.


1990 - 2011

Like the mythological creature, the Pegasus launch vehicle is winged. Lifted to about 12,000 meters it is then air-launched from under the wing of a carrier aircraft.

Space Tourism

October 4, 2004

SpaceShipOne became the first private space vehicle to climb above an altitude of 100 kilometers (62 miles) twice in a fourteen-day period

The Dragon and the Falcon


The Dragon is the first orbital spacecraft launched and recovered by a private company

Dream Chaser


Sierra Nevada Corporation is working with NASA to develop a commercial spacecraft for transporting crew and cargo to and from the ISS.

The Space Launch System

2017 - 2021

A new and different kind of rocket is needed as NASA prepares to extend its mission beyond low-Earth orbit and out into the solar system. The Space Launch System (SLS) will be used for Earth orbital flights and long-range missions to places like asteroids or Mars and its moons