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The Rocketry Portal

A Soyuz-FG rocket launches from "Gagarin's Start" (Site 1/5), Baikonur Cosmodrome

A rocket (from Italian: rocchetto, lit.'bobbin/spool') is a vehicle that uses jet propulsion to accelerate without using the surrounding air. A rocket engine produces thrust by reaction to exhaust expelled at high speed. Rocket engines work entirely from propellant carried within the vehicle; therefore a rocket can fly in the vacuum of space. Rockets work more efficiently in a vacuum and incur a loss of thrust due to the opposing pressure of the 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, 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 Moon. Rockets are now used for fireworks, missiles and other 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 (monopropellant), two liquids that spontaneously react on contact (hypergolic propellants), two liquids that must be ignited to react (like kerosene (RP1) and liquid oxygen, used in most liquid-propellant rockets), a solid combination of fuel with oxidizer (solid fuel), or solid fuel with liquid or gaseous 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. (Full article...)

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A US Peacekeeper missile launched from a silo

An intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is a ballistic missile with a range greater than 5,500 kilometres (3,400 mi), primarily designed for nuclear weapons delivery (delivering one or more thermonuclear warheads). Conventional, chemical, and biological weapons can also be delivered with varying effectiveness, but have never been deployed on ICBMs. Most modern designs support multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRVs), allowing a single missile to carry several warheads, each of which can strike a different target. The United States, Russia, China, France, India, the United Kingdom, Israel, and North Korea are the only countries known to have operational ICBMs.

Early ICBMs had limited precision, which made them suitable for use only against the largest targets, such as cities. They were seen as a "safe" basing option, one that would keep the deterrent force close to home where it would be difficult to attack. Attacks against military targets (especially hardened ones) demanded the use of a more precise, manned bomber. Second- and third-generation designs (such as the LGM-118 Peacekeeper) dramatically improved accuracy to the point where even the smallest point targets can be successfully attacked. (Full article...)
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In the news

14 February 2024 – Israel–Hamas war
A rocket attack from Lebanon on a military base in Safed, Israel, kills one Israeli soldier and injures several others. In response, Israeli airstrikes in southern Lebanon kill 11 civilians and four Hezbollah militants in Nabatieh and al-Sawana. (The Guardian)
8 February 2024 –
NASA's PACE mission is launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, United States, to study Earth's ocean and atmosphere. (Ars Technica)
30 January 2024 – Insurgency in Balochistan
Balochistan Liberation Army separatists launch rockets against security forces in Machh, Balochistan, Pakistan, killing a police officer and injuring 15 others, in response to Pakistan's Operation Marg Bar Sarmachar. Six militants are killed in the ensuing shootout. (AP)


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The swing arms move away and a plume of flame signals the liftoff of the Saturn V launch vehicle.
The swing arms move away and a plume of flame signals the liftoff of the Saturn V launch vehicle.
Credit: NASA
Launch of Saturn V at the start of Apollo 11.

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