Sunday, 10 July 2011

History of rockets

History of rockets

In antiquity

Early Chinese rocket.
The availability of black powder (gunpowder) to propel projectiles was a precursor to the development of the first solid rocket. Ninth century Chinese Taoist alchemists discovered black powder while searching for the elixir of life; this accidental discovery led to experiments as weapons such as bombs, cannon, incendiary fire arrows and rocket-propelled fire arrows.[nb 1][nb 2] The discovery of gunpowder was probably the product of centuries of alchemical experimentation.[5]
Exactly when the first flights of rockets occurred is contested. A common claim is that the first recorded use of a rocket in battle was by the Chinese in 1232 against the Mongol hordes at Kai Feng Fu. This is based on an old Mandarin civil service examination question which reads "Is the defense of Kai Feng Fu against the Mongols (1232) the first recorded use of cannon?".[6] Another question from the examinations read "Fire-arms began with the use of rockets in the dynasty of Chou (B. C. 1122-255)--in what book do we first meet with the word p'ao, now used for cannon?".[7]

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