Rocket Facts

Rockets are manmade vehicles powered by rocket engines. Rockets can reach a speed of 15,000 miles per hour in as little as eight minutes and must travel at least 7 miles per second to escape Earth’s gravity.

The first liquid-fuel rocket was created by Robert H. Goddard in 1926. It was the Soviet Union Sputnik 8K71PS rocket that launched a dog into space in 1957.

Today, we send satellites to space and astronauts to the International Space Station using rockets. Rocketry was first developed more than 2,000 years ago.

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Rocket Facts for Kids

  • Fireworks were the first rockets.
  • The Chinese were experimenting with rocket mechanisms as early as 995 AD.
  • In space, rockets work more efficiently than on Earth.
  • Space shuttles take 8-1/2 minutes to reach space.
  • Payload is the cargo carried by a rocket.
  • Rocket comes from the Italian rocchetta, which means “bobbin” or “little spindle.”
  • Rockets have four main parts: nose cone, fins, a rocket body, and engine.
  • To escape Earth’s gravity, rockets must travel at 7 miles per second
  • Liquid-fuel rockets were invented by Robert H. Goddard, the father of modern rocketry.

The First Rockets

Rocket technology was used thousands of years ago, as early as 400 B.C.

In the 9th century A.D., a Chinese alchemist developed gunpowder. Exposed to fire, it exploded in a flash and a bang.

In China, rocket technology was used for the first time in 1232 CE. In reality, these early rockets were more modest devices used during banquets.

How rockets lift off

Rockets use a controlled explosion to propel them through Earth’s atmosphere into space. A nozzle is used to channel the hot, high-pressure gas created by the explosion into a stream that escapes from the back of the nozzle at hypersonic speeds.

As a rocket gains speed, it must be steered using gimballed engines or external vanes to deflect exhaust gases and small thruster rockets mounted on the sides of the rocket stage.

How fast can a rocket go?

A conventional rocket can go very fast if it accelerates for a long time. A space-going rocket needs to go about 17,000 mph to achieve orbit.

Earth to LEO (low Earth orbit)17,000 mph
Earth to Earth escape24,200 mph
Earth to lunar orbit25,700 mph
Earth to GEO (geosynchronous Earth orbit)26,400 mph
Earth to solar escape36,500 mph

How long does it take for a rocket to get to the Moon

Getting to the Moon takes about 3 days. The distance between Earth and the Moon is about 240,000 miles (386,400 kilometers). The actual distance depends on the path taken.

What are 10 things rockets are used for?

  • Fireworks
  • Missiles and other weaponry
  • Ejection seats
  • Launch vehicles for artificial satellites
  • Human spaceflight
  • Space exploration
  • Rocket cars
  • Rocket trains
  • Rocket torpedoes
  • Rocket-powered jet packs

The first rockets were used as weapons

During the war between the Chinese empire and Mongol invaders, the Chinese developed the first solid-propellant rockets. This helped the Chinese defeat their enemies.

The Chinese called this new weapon guanwu, meaning “fire arrow.”

The Chinese had many different types of rockets.

Germany launched the first rocket into space in 1942

The V-2 was a long-range guided ballistic missile developed by Germany during the Second World War as a “vengeance weapon” and was the first artificial object to travel into space.

Solid-fuel rockets can’t match liquid-fuel rockets

Solid-fuel rockets were invented first in 13th century China, but liquid-fuel rockets are faster and can escape Earth’s gravity.

Rocket ships overcome space’s vacuum

Rocket engines push a spacecraft through the vacuum of space using chemical reactions. The exhaust is expelled in the opposite direction. They can also be used to power landings.

People in Space

Yuri Gagarin

Yuri Gagarin, the first human to journey into outer space, was awarded many medals and titles, including Hero of the Soviet Union, and became a deputy of the Soviet of Nationalities and a deputy of the Soviet of Nationalities.

On 12 April 1961, Gagarin, using the call sign Kedr, became the first human to travel into space.

Neil Armstrong

Armstrong joined the NASA Astronaut Corps in 1962 and became the first civilian astronaut to fly in space. In 1969, he and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to land on the Moon and were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.