Encyclopedia Article


A rocket is an aircraft propelled by the release of gases produced via the process of combustion. Rockets take the basic form of a tube with an elongated nose. A propellant, usually in the form of a highly flammable liquid, is contained in a tank in the end of the tube opposite from the nose. When the propellant is ignited, gases are released at high rates of speed and expansion, creating great force, or thrust. Because in nature for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction, as the high-pressure and therefore high-powered exhaust explodes from the rear end of the rocket tube, the rocket itself is propelled forward in the opposite direction.

Rockets have a long history in both military and recreational use. Chinese fireworks, for example, are a form of early rocket that date back to 10th century CE. A contemporary form of military rocket is the guided missile.

Photo Credit: 

"Charles Mansur at Rocket Garden in White Sands - c. 1963," photographer unknown. ( 2010-04-06) Roswell Museum and Art enter. All Rights Reserved. Use with permission only.

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