The origin of rocket technology is said to be traced as far back as thousands of years ago around the 400 B.C. There are many stories that show that rocket technology was being used thousands of years ago, for instance, around the 400 BC, a Greek philosopher and mathematician known as Archytas was believed to have shown off a wooden pigeon that was suspended on wires. This pigeon was then pushed around with the help of the escaping steam.
Also around 300 years after Archytas performed the wooden pigeon experiment; Hero of Alexandria is believed to have invented the Aeolipile, an invention also commonly known as Hero’s engine.
The Aeolipile is a device that has a sphere shape and sat on top of a boiling pool of water. The steam from the boiling water went in the sphere and was released through two L-shaped tubes on opposite sides. The released steam will create a trust that will enable the sphere to rotate. The leading countries in space technology are UK, US, China, and Russia.
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It is believed that the earliest development of the first real rockets can be traced back to the first century in China. The aeolipile and wooden pigeon were thought to be the earlier version of rockets but they do not look anything like the modern rocket.
It is currently impossible to know the precise date that rockets first appeared but historians believe that the Chinese first developed gunpowder, a mixture of charcoal, saltpeter, and sulfur around the 100 A.D
The gunpowder developed then was often used to create explosive devices, colorful sparks and smoke out of hollow bamboo sticks, closed off at one end for their religious festivals.
And when some of the bamboo tubes filled with gunpowder started shooting off or skittering along the ground, the Chinese began to work with the gun filled bamboo sticks and attached them to arrows for war and religious festivals.
At first, these arrows were often launched with the traditional method of shooting with a bow to create a form of an early incendiary bomb, but after some time, the Chinese discovered that the bamboo sticks were capable of launching themselves with the aid of the thrust produced by escaping steam.
However, the first recorded use of such true rocket was in the battle of Kai-Keng that occurred between the Chinese and Mongols in 1232. During the period of this battle, the Chinese were able to hold the Mongols at bay with the help of a primitive form of solid fuel rocket.
The primitive form of solid fuel rocket was a hollow tube that was closed at one end, filled with gunpowder and then attached to a long bamboo stick.
The Chinese increased the pressure of these rockets by igniting the gunpowder which was also capable of forcing some of the steam and smoke out through the opened end of the rocket.
These rockets worked with the principle of the law of conservation of momentum which produces thrust that is capable of propelling the rocket in the direction of the closed end of the tube, with the long stick working in a similar way to the modern rocket guidance system.
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1687- THE PUBLICATION OF NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION
In 1687, Sir Isaac Newton published his book commonly known as “Principia” which explain the three laws of motion. These three laws of motion are said to be the scientific foundations of modern rocketry.
THE ROCKET REVIVAL IN 1792 AND 1799
The Indians developed rockets that were used against Britain in 1792 and this piqued the interest of the British colonel known as Colonel William Congreve. Colonel William Congreve then started the subsequent development of rockets to be used for military purposes by the British.
THE INVENTION OF THE SPIN STABILIZATION IN 1844
In 1844, jet vents were invented to be used on an angle in an attempt to make rockets spin in a similar way to bullets to make them more stable and accurate.
THE INTRODUCTION OF SPACE EXPLORATION IN 1898
In 1898, the Russian school teacher, Konstantin Tsiokovsky proposed a theory of using rockets for space exploration. He proposed that the rockets should be designed to use liquid propellants so that they would gain better range.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF LIQUID PROPELLANT ROCKETS ON 16 MARCH IN 1926
On March 1926, an American known as Robert H Goddard successfully developed the first liquid propellant rocket that was powered by liquid oxygen and gasoline. He then flies the rocket that same day and went on to design larger rockets that propelled by liquid oxygen and powered by gasoline.
THE FIRST ATMOSPHERIC TESTING WITH THE AID OF ROCKETS IN 1946
In 1946, the United States started using V-2 rockets with the help of the captured German rocket engineers. The V-2 was sounding rockets to make accurate measurements of the atmosphere at high altitudes. Before this, there was little knowledge on the atmosphere that envelope the Earth.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF BALLISTIC MISSILES IN THE 1950s
In the 1950s, different types of medium and long-range missiles were designed and became the starting point of the US space programme. Different missiles such as Atlas, Titan and Redstone were eventually used to launch astronauts into space in this time period.
THE LAUNCH OF THE FIRST SATELLITE KNOWN AS SPUTNIK 1 ON 4 OCTOBER IN 1957
On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union successfully launches the first Earth-orbiting artificial satellite known as Sputnik 1. This is the starting point of the success of the space race between two of the world’s center of power.
In 1958, the first American satellite known as Explorer 1 was launched in January. The satellite was launched by Jet Propulsion Laboratories which was directed by the New Zealander Sir William Pickering. And on October 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was established in the United States.