|A rocket is a flying vehicle, moving in space at the expense of reactive thrust, produced when the rocket ejects the rocket part of its own mass (reaction mass).
The flight of the rocket does not necessarily require surrounding air or gas environment and is possible not only in the atmosphere but also in vacuum. The word “rocket” is used to denote a broad-spectrum of flying devices from a festivefirecracker to a space launch vehicle (carrier-rocket).
In military technology the word “rocket” denotes, as rule, a class of unmanned aircrafts, used for destruction of receding targets. These devices use the principle of reaction propulsion in their flight.
Due to the various ways of using rockets in the armed forces by different kinds of troops, a wide class of different types of rocket weapon has formed.
According to the evidence of the Old Roman writer Aulus Gellius one of the first reactive devices was used 2000 years ago in 400 B.C. by an ancient Greek philosopher Archytas, who made a wooden pigeon move along a wire with the help of steam in front of amazed people living in his town. Archytas used the principle of “action and reaction” which was scientifically described only in XVII century
Nevertheless, according to the majority of historians, the origin of rockets, dates back to the period of the Chinese dynasty Han (206 BC – 220 CE) when the gun powder was discovered and began to be used for fireworks and entertainment. The power, released during the explosion of the propelling gunpowder charge was strong enough to move different objects. Later this principle was used in creation of new guns and muskets. Shells of powder guns could travel long distances, although they were not rockets as they did not have their own fuel supply. Nevertheless, it was the invention of gunpowder that was a major precursor to the development of the first solid rocket. Description of flying “fire arrows” used by Chinese people shows that these arrows were rockets. They had a pipe made of thickened paper opening only from the back end, filled with combustible substance, attached to them. This charge was lit and the arrow was shot from the bow. Such arrows were used on several occasions: when laying siege on fortifications, against ships and cavalry.
In XIII century rockets appeared in Europe together with Mongolian invaders and in 1248 the medieval English philosopher and naturalist Roger Bacon published a book on their application. It is well known that rockets were used byZaporozhian Cossacks from XVI—XVII centuries. In XVII century Belarusian military engineer Kazimierz Siemienowicz described a multistage rocket.
At the beginning of XIX century operational missiles, whose manufacturing was set up by William Congreve (Congreve Rocket), entered service with the army.
Rocket artillery was widely used up until the end of XIX century. Rockets were lighter and more mobile, than ordnance. Accuracy and close grouping of rocket shots were not very high, but comparable to ordnance of that time. However, threaded artillery appeared enabling accuracy and close grouping of shots and rocket artillery was universally withdrawn from service. Only flares and firework rockets remained.
At the end of XIX century attempts were made to explain reaction propulsion mathematically and create more effective rocket weapons.
In 1920s a famous German scientist Hermann Julius Oberth set forth a number of principles of interplanetary flight.
In 1923 an American scientist Robert Goddard began to develop a liquid rocket engine, a working prototype of which was created by the end of 1925. On March 16, 1926, he launched the first liquid-fuelled rocket which used gasoline and liquid oxygen as fuel.
The works of Tsiolkovsky, Goddard, and Oberth were continued by the groups of rocketry enthusiasts in the USA, USSR and Germany. In Germany experiments were performed by the German Rocket Society (Verein für Raumschiffahrt, or VfR). On March 14, 1931 a member of the VfR Johannes Winkler performed the first successful launch of a liquid-fuelled rocket in Europe.
Wernher von Braun (a German-born rocket scientist) who began the development of rocket engines for the German Army artillery range in Kummersdorf in December 1932 also worked in VfR. The engine created by the scientist was used in the experimental A-2 rocket which was successfully launched from the island of Borkum on December 19, 1934. After the Nazis came to power in Germany financial means have been allocated to the development of rocket weapons, and in the spring 1936 the program of building the rocket center in Peenemunde, headed by Walter Dornberger and the technical director von Braun was approved. The centre developed a ballistic missile A-4 with the flight range of 320 km. During the Second World War, on October 3, 1942, the first successful launch of this rocket took place, and in 1944 it began to be used in battles and was called the V-2.
The military use of the V-2 showed great performance capabilities of the rocketry and the most powerful postwar counties - the United States and the Soviet Union - also started developing ballistic missiles. In 1957 under the leadership of Sergei Korolev the Soviet Union created the world’s first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBMs) R-7, which in the same year was used to launch the world's first artificial Earth satellite. Thus rockets began to be used for space flights.|