Ask an Explainer


Who built the first rocket?


The first rocket was invented around 1100 AD in China. These rockets used solid propellants and were mainly used as weapons and fireworks. It was not until the 1920s that rocket societies emerged, and by the 1930s and 1940s professional rocket engineering took off. Three pioneers began working independently on developing rockets to reach space. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and Hermann Oberth were the first to work out many essential principles and to realize the rocket was the means to travel into space.  This sparked interests in rocketry and space travel. In 1926, Robert Goddard launched the world’s first liquid-propellant rocket. Due to secrecy, the 1926 rocket did not have much influence on the later developments. The first long range ballistic missile was the V-2, which was built by the Germans in 1942 and was used against allied cities during World War II. The US and the USSR used the V-2 as a basis for developing their own large rockets. Later these intercontinental ballistic missiles were modified to launch spacecraft and astronauts in to space.


Ask an Explainer