Amazing Rocketry Facts, Quotes and Activities
The term rocketry generally refers to the design, study, experimentation, use of, and construction of rockets. This includes everything involved for a variety of model rockets used and created by hobbyists all the way up to the professional research, rocket construction, and space launches done by NASA.
Facts and Quotes about Rocketry
Rockets can be powerful. An average professionally constructed rock has more than a million pounds of thrust. That is a lot of force.
Rocketry can be risky. The astronauts of the rocket-propelled Apollo were actually unable to get life insurance because of the high risk involved with being propelled into space by rockets, so they signed autographs that could be sold in the event that something happened to them.
Rockets have been around for a while. Robert Goddard launched the first liquid-propellant rocket back in 1926.
Rockets have four main parts. In an average rocket, you will find a body, payload, guidance, and propulsion. These make up the basic components.
Rockets get us into space. Rockets are a big part of launching spaceships. The large amount of thrust that they create helps the spaceships to achieve escape velocity. If we were in a world without rockets, we might still be waiting to reach the moon.
Rockets use fuel. Rockets need to burn fuel, which produces gas that escapes the rocket with enough force to propel it upward.
“As to rocket ships flying between America and Europe, I believe it is worth seriously trying for. Thirty years ago, persons who were developing flying were laughed at as mad, and that scorn hindered aviation. Now we heap similar ridicule upon stratoplane or rocket ships for trans-Atlantic flights. “
- Auguste Piccard
“For forty-nine months between 1968 and 1972, two dozen Americans had the great good fortune to briefly visit the Moon. Half of us became the first emissaries from Earth to tread its dusty surface. We who did so were privileged to represent the hopes and dreams of all humanity. For mankind it was a giant leap for a species that evolved from the Stone Age to create sophisticated rockets and spacecraft that made a Moon landing possible. For one crowning moment, we were creatures of the cosmic ocean, an epoch that a thousand years hence may be seen as the signature of our century. “
- Buzz Aldrin
“Time travel used to be thought of as just science fiction, but Einstein's general theory of relativity allows for the possibility that we could warp space-time so much that you could go off in a rocket and return before you set out.”
- Stephen Hawking
“Rockets are just another name for trouble. Either you just had trouble, you are having trouble, or you are going to have trouble.”
- Milt Rosen
- NASA: Rocketry
- The National Earth Science Teachers Association’s Windows to the Universe: Rockets
- Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum: Rockets and missiles
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology: The rocket
- New Mexico State University: Rocketry: Early 20th century pioneers
Rocketry for Kids and Teens (Model Rocketry)
Model rocketry is a great hands-on way to start learning about engineering, physics, and more. A model rocket is much smaller than the ones used to propel spaceships, but it uses many of the same basic principles. While professional rockets can go extremely high with great force, model rockets are intended to reach low altitudes.
There are model rocketry clubs all across the country, and many of them have rocket launching events and contests, so do not be afraid to jump in!
As with anything, the first rule is to stay safe, and this is especially true with model rockets which can pose a risk of injury. To reduce the risk of injury, be sure to follow these rules:
- Use lightweight parts that are not made of metal when creating the body, nose, and fins
- Only use certified model rocket motors
- Utilize an electrical launch system
- Do not let anyone approach a rocket immediately after it misfires
- Use a countdown
- Make sure that everyone is a safe distance away before launching a rocket
- Stay within size requirements for model rockets
- Do not launch rockets near planes
- Use a large open area as a launch site
- Have a recovery system such as a parachute for the rocket
- Do not try to recover the rocket if it lands somewhere unsafe such as if it gets caught on power lines
There are many different tried and tested techniques that you can use to build a model rocket.
If you are using a kit, make sure to:
- Read the instructions first
- Check to make sure that all the parts are provided and that they are in good condition
- Strengthen the body tube ends
- Use the right tools for the job
If you are constructing your own rocket, make sure to:
- Do your research
- Check that all the parts you will be using are in good condition and are compliant
- Avoid using sharp or metal parts
- Make sure that the fuel you are using is safe for model rockets and the materials you will be using
You can learn a lot about science by learning about the basic principles behind constructing and launching a model rocket. In fact, model rockets can make a great science fair project. Along with studying science and mathematics, constructing model rockets can even help you begin to prepare for a career in aerospace engineering, also known as rocket science.
- National Association of Rocketry: Model rocket safety code
- National Archives Federal Register: Requirements for amateur rocket activities
- Ohio 4-H Club: Designing your own model rocket
- Cornell University: How do I build a model rocket? (intermediate)
Are you still interested in learning more about rocketry? There are plenty of rocketry activity ideas available online. Check out AMA Flight School’s Paper rocket classroom activity. The University of Colorado Boulder goes one step further with their Pop rockets hands-on activity. At Berkeley, they also discuss how to do a rocket experiment with a balloon: Rockets away.