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WSMR Public > Public Affairs > White Sands History > Rockets: History and Theory


Sometime during the 11th century the Chinese discovered how to make a simple rocket using gunpowder for fuel. It didn´t take the military leaders long to realize that the rocket could be used in defense of the great China wall. They strapped the rockets to their arrows and greatly extended the range of the bow and arrow.

Centuries later at White Sands Missile Range rockets are used to pushDrawing: Fire Arrows guided missiles to their targets. Rocket engines are also used to propel test instruments and experiments into the upper atmosphere over Southern New Mexico. These rocket engines used today work on the same principles that made the Chinese fire arrows so effective.

In the 20th century the term "rocket" has become a household word. Huge rockets carried man to the moon and back. Because of rockets, Americans enjoy instantaneous world-wide communication via satellite. We even get a daily cloud-cover picture of our area taken from a satellite which was launched into space by a rocket. Soon people may be riding in rockets on a regular basis to get to work in a space station. In short, the rocket is the key to the exploration of the other worlds in the universe.

This page was last updated on 4/8/2010 10:26 AM