The "wasp nest" fire arrow launcher, manufactured during the Ming dynasty in 1380, is one of the first reported rocket launchers. Rockets were also deployed in Europe in the same year at the Battle of Chioggia. By 1451, the Joseon dynasty of Korea was employing a form of mobile multiple rocket launcher known as the "Munjong Hwacha." This was an array of small cannon mounted on wheels that could be moved around the battlefield.
The Chinese invented gunpowder and used it in military applications early on, but it was not until much later that people started using rockets. Rocket technology had its origins in China around 300 A.D., but only became popular again in Europe after 1550. The British employed rockets in several wars, most notably in the 1640s during the English Civil War. They are also believed to have been used by the French in their battle with the Spanish under King Philip II in 1556.
Rocket science involves the design, development, testing, and operation of devices that propel objects into space or perform other tasks related to spacecraft operation. A rocket scientist needs to understand physics laws that apply to objects in motion to properly design a rocket. Scientists also need to know fluid dynamics and heat transfer as well as how to build reliable equipment that can withstand intense heat and high levels of pressure over long periods of time.
Prior to contemporary rocketry, rockets were used as weapons in China, Korea, India, and Europe. They were used by both sides in this battle.
Rocket technology was not developed independently but rather based on military needs. In the 16th century, the German army employed fireworks as a means of attack or defense. They made their own rockets, including composite rockets which incorporated musket balls inside their bodies for more damage. During the French and Indian Wars (1754-1763), the British army used rockets to destroy enemy artillery positions before engaging them in battle. They also used rockets as diversionary tactics when attacking fortified positions.
In 1776, the American army used rockets in combat for the first time during the invasion of Canada. These rockets were mostly improvised with gunpowder tanks and missiles found around campsites or stolen from stores. However, some rockets were built by experts who understood their design needed to be rigid to provide stability during flight. These men often came from the upper class since only those without other options could afford to build rockets.
By the end of the 18th century, modern rocket designs had been created by European engineers. These rockets were usually based on firearms designs and sometimes included parts manufactured from metal sheets.
The Wubei Zhi depicts a "nest of bees" (yi wo feng, Yi Wo Feng) arrow rocket launcher, so named due of its hexagonal honeycomb design. Rockets were initially utilized as arrow propulsion devices and may have emerged as early as the 10th century in Song dynasty China. However, the Wubei Zhi is dated to between 1276 and 1283 AD, which makes it one of the earliest known examples of an operational rocket engine.
Arrows propelled with explosive powders were used by many ancient civilizations including Assyrians, Babylonians, Chinese, Egyptians, Indians, Iranians, and Romans. But only China developed rockets as a independent technology after learning about gunpowder from foreigners (Arab traders). The Wubei Zhi illustration shows an advanced design for its time, so it's likely that its inventor was also responsible for developing modern solid fuel rockets. This assumption is further supported by the fact that none other than Yang Shao-ch'ing, one of China's most important rocket scientists, worked on the project.
Rocket engines had been invented before the 13th century, but they were mostly used as fireworks or weapons because of their limited range and speed. Modern solid fuel rockets first appeared around 1750 and have since become widely used in industry and science. The Wubei Zhi arrow rocket is still preserved at the Shanghai Museum and is on display every year during the museum's festival of knowledge.
The first rocket launchers described in imperial China were modified arrows with a rocket engine attached to the shaft a few inches behind the tip. The rockets used were filled with gunpowder and had irregular trajectories, but some versions could be made to go straight up.
The first true rocket launchers appeared around 1750. They were invented by an Italian engineer named Giovanni Antonio Amadeo di Santo Torricelli (1672-1736). Rocket engines at that time were based on fire, so they worked by heating water in a boiler to make steam, which was then used to drive a piston that produced more heat and steam. The problem with this design is that it required a lot of work to set up before any kind of output could be obtained, so it was not useful for attacking buildings or troops.
In 1769 another Italian engineer named Luigi d'Aubigny (also known as "d'Ubigny") improved upon this design by adding a valve system to allow for less maintenance and smaller amounts of water needed to fire the rocket. This design was much more efficient and effective than its predecessors, and d'Ubigny's name is often given credit for inventing the modern rocket engine.
They were used in war until the 19th century when they were replaced by firearms.
The first true rocket is credited to Chinese scientist Qian Mu who developed an explosive motor that could be mounted on a bird or animal and used as a weapon. This invention was probably constructed around A.D. 220. Although no actual drawings of Qian's machine have been found, descriptions of it by later scholars stand as a testament to its incredible power. The motor consisted of three parts: a barrel filled with small holes, a wick that passed through these holes and was attached to a piece of cord which was plugged into the end of the barrel, and a tube placed over the cord where it entered the barrel. When fire was applied to the cord, it would burn rapidly, causing the piece of cord inside the barrel to burst into flame, expand, and shoot out the other end.
Qian invented this device because he wanted to test the effectiveness of new ammunition. Since animals were used as targets, it can be assumed that the rocket was designed to destroy or injure enemies at a distance.