Timeline of rocket and missile technology

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A depiction of the "long serpent" rocket launcher from the 11th century book Wujing Zongyao. The holes in the frame are designed to keep the fire arrows separate. 11th century long serpent fire arrow rocket launcher.jpg
A depiction of the "long serpent" rocket launcher from the 11th century book Wujing Zongyao . The holes in the frame are designed to keep the fire arrows separate.

This article gives a concise timeline of rocket and missile technology .


11th century-13th century

Robert Anderson suggests using metal for rocket casing Robert Anderson Rocket Diagram 1696.png
Robert Anderson suggests using metal for rocket casing

17th century-19th century

20th century

21st century

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Human spaceflight</span> Spaceflight with a crew or passengers

Human spaceflight is spaceflight with a crew or passengers aboard a spacecraft, often with the spacecraft being operated directly by the onboard human crew. Spacecraft can also be remotely operated from ground stations on Earth, or autonomously, without any direct human involvement. People trained for spaceflight are called astronauts, cosmonauts (Russian), or taikonauts (Chinese); and non-professionals are referred to as spaceflight participants or spacefarers.

Energia was a 1980s super-heavy lift launch vehicle. It was designed by NPO Energia of the Soviet Union as part of the Buran program for a variety of payloads including the Buran spacecraft. Control system main developer enterprise was the Khartron NPO "Electropribor". The Energia used four strap-on boosters each powered by a four-chamber RD-170 engine burning kerosene/LOX, and a central core stage with four single-chamber RD-0120 (11D122) engines fueled by liquid hydrogen/LOX.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Spacecraft</span> Vehicle or machine designed to fly in space

A spacecraft is a vehicle that is designed to fly in outer space and operate there. Spacecraft are used for a variety of purposes, including communications, Earth observation, meteorology, navigation, space colonization, planetary exploration, and transportation of humans and cargo. All spacecraft except single-stage-to-orbit vehicles cannot get into space on their own, and require a launch vehicle.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Expendable launch system</span> Launch system that uses a single use launch vehicle

An expendable launch system is a launch vehicle that can be launched only once, after which its components are either destroyed during reentry or discarded in space. ELVs typically consist of several rocket stages that are discarded sequentially as their fuel is exhausted and the vehicle gains altitude and speed. As of 2022, most satellites and human spacecraft are currently launched on ELVs. ELVs are simpler in design than reusable launch systems and therefore may have a lower production cost. Furthermore, an ELV can use its entire fuel supply to accelerate its payload, offering greater payloads. ELVs are proven technology in widespread use for many decades.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Spaceflight</span> Flight into or through outer space

Spaceflight is an application of astronautics to fly objects, usually spacecraft into or through outer space, either with or without humans on board. Most spaceflight is uncrewed and conducted mainly with spacecraft such as satellites in orbit around Earth, but also includes space probes for flights beyond Earth orbit. Such spaceflight operate either by telerobotic or autonomous control. The more complex human spaceflight has been pursued soon after the first orbital satellites and has reached the Moon and permanent human presence in space around Earth, particularly with the use of space stations. Human spaceflight programs include the Soyuz, Shenzhou, the past Apollo Moon landing and the Space Shuttle programs. Other current spaceflight are conducted to the International Space Station and to China's Tiangong Space Station.

Human spaceflight programs have been conducted, started, or planned by multiple countries and companies. The age of manned rocket flight was initiated by Fritz von Opel who piloted the world's first rocket-propelled flight on 30 September 1929. All space flights depend on rocket technology; von Opel was the co-designer and financier of the visionary project. Until the 21st century, human spaceflight programs were sponsored exclusively by governments, through either the military or civilian space agencies. With the launch of the privately funded SpaceShipOne in 2004, a new category of human spaceflight programs – commercial human spaceflight – arrived. By the end of 2022, three countries and one private company (SpaceX) had successfully launched humans to Earth orbit, and two private companies had launched humans on a suborbital trajectory.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Reusable launch vehicle</span> Vehicles that can go to space and return

A reusable launch vehicle has parts that can be recovered and reflown, while carrying payloads from the surface to outer space. Rocket stages are the most common launch vehicle parts aimed for reuse. Smaller parts such as rocket engines and boosters can also be reused, though reusable spacecraft may be launched on top of an expendable launch vehicle. Reusable launch vehicles do not need to make these parts for each launch, therefore reducing its launch cost significantly. However, these benefits are diminished by the cost of recovery and refurbishment.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Booster (rocketry)</span> Rocket used to augment the thrust of a larger rocket

A booster rocket is either the first stage of a multistage launch vehicle, or else a shorter-burning rocket used in parallel with longer-burning sustainer rockets to augment the space vehicle's takeoff thrust and payload capability. Boosters are traditionally necessary to launch spacecraft into low Earth orbit, and are especially important for a space vehicle to go beyond Earth orbit. The booster is dropped to fall back to Earth once its fuel is expended, a point known as booster engine cut-off (BECO).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Spaceplane</span> Spacecraft capable of aerodynamic flight in atmosphere

A spaceplane is a vehicle that can fly and glide like an aircraft in Earth's atmosphere and maneuver like a spacecraft in outer space. To do so, spaceplanes must incorporate features of both aircraft and spacecraft. Orbital spaceplanes tend to be more similar to conventional spacecraft, while sub-orbital spaceplanes tend to be more similar to fixed-wing aircraft. All spaceplanes to date have been rocket-powered but then landed as unpowered gliders.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Liquid-propellant rocket</span> Rocket engine that uses liquid fuels and oxidizers

A liquid-propellant rocket or liquid rocket utilizes a rocket engine that uses liquid propellants. Gaseous propellants may also be used but are not common because of their low density and difficulty with common pumping methods. Liquids are desirable because they have a reasonably high density and high specific impulse (Isp). This allows the volume of the propellant tanks to be relatively low. The rocket propellants are usually pumped into the combustion chamber with a lightweight centrifugal turbopump, although some aerospace companies have found ways to use electric pumps with batteries, allowing the propellants to be kept under low pressure. This permits the use of low-mass propellant tanks that do not need to resist the high pressures needed to store significant amounts of gasses, resulting in a low mass ratio for the rocket.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Soviet space program</span> Space exploration program conducted by the Soviet Union from 1955 to 1991.

The Soviet space program was the national space program of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), active from 1955 until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Retrorocket</span> Rocket engine providing negative thrust used to slow the motion of an aerospace vehicle

A retrorocket is a rocket engine providing thrust opposing the motion of a vehicle, thereby causing it to decelerate. They have mostly been used in spacecraft, with more limited use in short-runway aircraft landing. New uses are emerging since 2010 for retro-thrust rockets in reusable launch systems.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Launch vehicle</span> Rocket used to carry a spacecraft into space

A launch vehicle is typically a rocket-powered vehicle designed to carry a payload from Earth's surface or lower atmosphere to outer space. The most common form is the ballistic missile-shaped multistage rocket, but the term is more general and also encompasses vehicles like the Space Shuttle. Most launch vehicles operate from a launch pad, supported by a launch control center and systems such as vehicle assembly and fueling. Launch vehicles are engineered with advanced aerodynamics and technologies, which contribute to high operating costs.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Falcon 9</span> Partially reusable orbital launch vehicle by SpaceX

Falcon 9 is a partially reusable medium-lift launch vehicle that can carry cargo and crew into Earth orbit, designed, manufactured and launched by American aerospace company SpaceX. It can also be used as an expendable heavy-lift launch vehicle. The first Falcon 9 launch was in June 2010. The first Falcon 9 ISS commercial resupply mission to the ISS launched on 8 October 2012. In 2020 it became the first commercial rocket to ever launch humans to orbit and is currently the only such vehicle capable of doing so. It is the only U.S. rocket currently certified for transporting humans to the International Space Station. In 2022, it became the U.S. rocket with the most launches in history and with the best safety record, having suffered just one flight failure.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of spaceflight</span>

Spaceflight began in the 20th century following theoretical and practical breakthroughs by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Robert H. Goddard, and Hermann Oberth. First successful large-scale rocket programs were initiated in the 1920s Germany by Fritz von Opel and Max Valier, and eventually in Nazi Germany by Wernher von Braun. The Soviet Union took the lead in the post-war Space Race, launching the first satellite, the first man and the first woman into orbit. The United States caught up with, and then passed, their Soviet rivals during the mid-1960s, landing the first men on the Moon in 1969. In the same period, France, the United Kingdom, Japan and China were concurrently developing more limited launch capabilities.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Falcon Heavy</span> Partially reusable orbital launch vehicle made by SpaceX

Falcon Heavy is a partially reusable super heavy-lift launch vehicle that can carry cargo into Earth orbit, and beyond. It is designed, manufactured and launched by American aerospace company SpaceX.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">SpaceX launch vehicles</span> Launch vehicles developed and operated by SpaceX

SpaceX manufactures launch vehicles to operate its launch provider services and to execute its various exploration goals. SpaceX currently manufactures and operates the Falcon 9 Full Thrust family of medium-lift launch vehicles and the Falcon Heavy family of heavy-lift launch vehicles – both of which powered by SpaceX Merlin engines and employing VTVL technologies to reuse the first stage. As of 2020, the company is also developing the fully reusable Starship launch system, which will replace the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">SpaceX reusable launch system development program</span> Effort by SpaceX to make rockets that can fly multiple times

SpaceX has privately funded the development of orbital launch systems that can be reused many times, similar to the reusability of aircraft. SpaceX has developed technologies over the last decade to facilitate full and rapid reuse of space launch vehicles. The project's long-term objectives include returning a launch vehicle first stage to the launch site within minutes and to return a second stage to the launch pad following orbital realignment with the launch site and atmospheric reentry in up to 24 hours. SpaceX's long term goal would have been reusability of both stages of their orbital launch vehicle, and the first stage would be designed to allow reuse a few hours after return. Development of reusable second stages for Falcon 9 was later abandoned in favor of the development of Starship, however, SpaceX has been developing reusable payload fairings for the Falcon 9.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Adeline (rocket stage)</span> Rocket stage

Adeline was a concept for a reusable rocket first-stage that would fly itself back to Earth after a launch using drone technology for horizontal landing on a runway. Airbus Defence and Space conceived the design concept.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Timeline of private spaceflight</span>

The following is a timeline of important events in the history of private spaceflight, including important technical as well as legislative and political advances. Though the industry has its origins in the early 1960s, soon after the beginning of the Space Age, private companies did not begin conducting launches into space until the 1980s, and it was not until the 21st century that multiple companies began privately developing and operating launch vehicles and spacecraft in earnest.


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