The study of rockets is an excellent way for students
to learn the basics of forces and
the response of an object to external forces.
There are four major
to any full scale rocket; the
or frame, the
payload system, the
guidance system, and the
On this page we show some types of payloads that are carried on rockets.
The payload of a rocket depends on the rocket's mission.
The earliest payloads on rockets were fireworks for celebrating
holidays. Some of the early ideas for booster
were developed in an effort to loft fireworks as high as possible.
During World War II, the fireworks were replaced by several
thousand pounds of explosives on the German V2 rocket.
Following World War II, many countries developed guided
armed with nuclear warheads for payloads.
The same rockets were modified to launch satellites with a wide
range of missions; communication, weather monitoring, spying,
planetary exploration, and observation.
On the figure we show a picture of the Hubble Space Telescope
which has been used to explore deep space from
low earth orbit.
The most important payload carried by a rocket into
is a human being.
In the early 1960's, U.S. military rockets like the Redstone, Atlas,
and Titan missiles were "man-rated" to carry the Mercury and
Gemini spacecraft into orbit. In
the Soviet Union, an intercontinental ballistic missile
was likewise modified to launch their Vostok, Voskhod, and Soyuz
manned-spacecraft. On the top figure, we show a Gemini spacecraft
which was first flown in the mid-1960's.
The Gemini carried two astronauts and was used to develop the techniques
of rendezvous, docking, and space-walking, and to study the effects of
space flights of up to two weeks duration.
During the Apollo moon program, a family of large boosters called
Saturn were developed in the U.S. The Saturns were strictly civilian
launchers and were not used for military purposes. The next American
crewed launcher was the Space Shuttle which has been used to place
and service both military and civilian satellites in orbit, to provide a medium
duration on-orbit capability, and to carry material and crews to and
from space stations.
Full Scale Rockets:
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