Rockets enable space travel and the exploration of cosmic distances.
A rocket refers to an engine that can propel forward by expelling its exhaust in the direction opposite its motion at high speed (e.g. a spacecraft). A rocket can travel in space as no air is required for it to operate. A rocket usually consists of multiple stages that assist with gaining speed at different altitudes in Earth’s atmosphere, eventually reaching escape velocity, at which point it is able to escape from Earth’s gravitational pull. Rocket technology has enabled the space age and the exploration of the Solar system, including the Moon landing, the international space station, sending probes to planets, comets and asteroids, and space telescopes.
On July 16, 1969, the huge 111 meter tall Saturn V rocket launched from Cape Canaveral to bring the Apollo 11 astronauts to the Moon. Credit: NASA
In 2018, a 70 meter Falcon 9 rocket launched NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida, for observations of exoplanets in the solar neighborhood. Here the rocket is climbing to the east over the Atlantic Ocean, and dropping its first stage booster for a landing on SpaceX’s downrange drone ship.