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The Amazing Rocket Essay

3255 words - 13 pages

Rockets In Ancient times

The first rocket like device was invented around 100BC by a Greek named Hero of Alexandria. This device was called an aeolipile. It consisted of a sphere mounted on a water kettle. A fire beneath the kettle turned the water to steam, which then traveled through pipes to the sphere and was expelled through two L-shaped pipes that caused the sphere to rotate.

Hero Engine

When rockets as we know them were first invented is not known. The first date we know true rockets were used was the year 1232, however it is believed possible that the Chinese had primitive rocket like devices before this. At this time the Chinese were at war with the Mongols. During one of the battles, the battle of Kai-Keng, the Chinese managed to repel the Mongol invaders by using "arrows of flying fire." These fire-arrows were a simple form of a solid-propellant rocket. A tube, capped at one end, was filled with gunpowder. The other end was left open and the tube was attached to a long stick. When the powder was ignited, the rapid burning of the powder produced fire, smoke, and gas that escaped out the open end and produced a thrust. The stick acted as a simple guidance system that kept the rocket headed in one general direction as it flew through the air. It is not clear how effective these arrows of flying fire were as weapons of destruction, but their psychological effects on the Mongols was probably quite large.

Chinese Fire-Arrows

There were many reports of rocket experiments all through the 13th to 15 centuries. For instance, "According to one ancient legend, a Chinese official named Wan-Hoo attempted a flight to the moon using a large wicker chair to which were fastened 47 large rockets. Forty seven assistants, each armed with torches, rushed forward to light the fuses. In a moment there was a tremendous roar accompanied by billowing clouds of smoke. When the smoke cleared, the flying chair and Wan-Hu were gone." (Copied from http://history.msfc.nasa.gov/rocketry/tl1.html) In England, a monk named Roger Bacon worked on improved forms of gunpowder that greatly increased the range of rockets. In France, Jean Froissart found that more accurate flights could be achieved by launching rockets through tubes. Froissart's idea was the forerunner of the modern bazooka. Joanes de Fontana of Italy designed a surface-running rocket-powered torpedo for setting enemy ships on fire. In 1650, a Polish artillery expert, Kazimierz Siemienowicz, published a series of drawings for a staged rocket.

During the early introduction of rockets to England, rockets were used primarily for war. Many battles were fought where rockets played important roles. Francis Scott Key coined the phrase the "rocket's red glare" after the British fired Congreve rockets against the United States in the War of 1812. Congreve had used a 16-foot guidestick to help stabilize his rocket. William Hale, another British inventor, invented the stickless rocket in 1846. The U.S....

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