PNG images: Rocket

A rocket (from Italian rocchetto "bobbin")[nb 1] is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle that obtains thrust from a rocket engine. Rocket engine exhaust is formed entirely from propellant carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction and push rockets forward simply by expelling their exhaust in the opposite direction at high speed, and can therefore work in the vacuum of space.

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In fact, rockets work more efficiently in space than in an atmosphere. Multistage rockets are capable of attaining escape velocity from Earth and therefore can achieve unlimited maximum altitude. Compared with airbreathing engines, rockets are lightweight and powerful and capable of generating large accelerations. To control their flight, rockets rely on momentum, airfoils, auxiliary reaction engines, gimballed thrust, momentum wheels, deflection of the exhaust stream, propellant flow, spin, and/or gravity.

Rockets for military and recreational uses date back to at least 13th century China. Significant scientific, interplanetary and industrial use did not occur until the 20th century, when rocketry was the enabling technology for the Space Age, including setting foot on the Earth's moon. Rockets are now used for fireworks, weaponry, ejection seats, launch vehicles for artificial satellites, human spaceflight, and space exploration.

Chemical rockets are the most common type of high power rocket, typically creating a high speed exhaust by the combustion of fuel with an oxidizer. The stored propellant can be a simple pressurized gas or a single liquid fuel that disassociates in the presence of a catalyst (monopropellants), two liquids that spontaneously react on contact (hypergolic propellants), two liquids that must be ignited to react, a solid combination of fuel with oxidizer (solid fuel), or solid fuel with liquid oxidizer (hybrid propellant system). Chemical rockets store a large amount of energy in an easily released form, and can be very dangerous. However, careful design, testing, construction and use minimizes risks.

The first gunpowder-powered rockets were developed in Song China, by the 13th century. The Chinese rocket technology was adopted by the Mongols and the invention was spread via the Mongol invasions to the Near East and Europe in the mid 13th century. Medieval and early modern rockets were used militarily as incendiary weapons in sieges.

An early Chinese text to mention the use of rockets was the Huolongjing, written by the Chinese artillery officer Jiao Yu in the mid-14th century. Between 1270 and 1280, Hasan al-Rammah wrote al-furusiyyah wa al-manasib al-harbiyya (The Book of Military Horsemanship and Ingenious War Devices), which included 107 gunpowder recipes, 22 of which are for rockets. In Europe, Konrad Kyeser described rockets in his military treatise Bellifortis around 1405.