Image of space shuttle Columbia launch.
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Aris Multimedia Entertainment, Inc. 1994
Rockets create thrust by burning fuel within a confined space and expelling the exhaust gases through a small opening, pushing the rocket in the other direction. They are able to generate the high speeds necessary to leave Earth's gravitational field and travel into space.
The earliest evidence of rockets is from 1045 A.D. by the Chinese who used them in their military tactics. The destructiveness and range of rockets soon made them popular in other Asian countries and throughout Europe. By World War II, technology had developed liquid propulsion systems which were more efficient than solid fuels like gunpowder, and revolutionized rocketry.
The 1942 launch of a German rocket which hit a target 120 miles away marked the beginning of the space age. Since then, continuing research by the U.S. and Soviet space programs has resulted in more and more powerful rockets. Today, rockets make space travel possible throughout the entire solar system.
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