Monday, July 25, 2011

Uses of rockets

Rockets have many uses, in spite of their their many drawbacks, they are used by the military (missiles), for spaceflight (booster rockets) science and research (sounding rockets for taking instruments to 50 kilometers) and rescue (launch escape system on Saturn V, space shuttle, etc.). Rockets are also used by hobbyists who build and fly a wide variety of rockets. Some companies make rocket parts and kits but because of their simplicity, some people are known to make rockets out of almost anything. Rockets are also used in fireworks. Rockets have also been used to power cars. On this page, more information is given about the many uses of rockets.


Arrow anti-ballistic missile launch
Some military weapons use rockets to propel warheads to their targets. A rocket and its payload together are generally referred to as a missile when the weapon has a guidance system (not all missiles use rocket engines, some use other engines such as jets) or as a rocket if it is unguided. Anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles use rocket engines to engage targets at high speed at a range of several miles, while intercontinental ballistic missiles can be used to deliver multiple nuclear warheads thousands of miles, and anti-ballistic missiles try to stop them.

Science & research

Bumper sounding rocket
Sounding rockets are commonly used to carry instruments that take readings from 50 kilometres (31 mi) to 1,500 kilometres (930 mi) above the surface of the Earth, the altitudes between those reachable by weather balloons and satellites.
Rocket engines are also used to propel rocket sleds along a rail at extremely high speed. The world record for this is Mach 8.5.


Space Shuttle Atlantis during launch phase
Larger rockets are normally launched from a launch pad which serves as stable support until a few seconds after ignition. Due to their high exhaust velocity - 9,000 to 16,000 km/h; 5,600 to 10,000 mph (Mach10+), rockets are particularly useful when very high speeds are required, such as orbital speed (Mach 24+). Spacecraft delivered into orbital trajectories become artificial satellites which are used for many commercial purposes. Indeed, rockets remain the only way to launch spacecraft into orbit and beyond. They are also used to rapidly accelerate spacecraft when they change orbits or de-orbit for landing. Also, a rocket may be used to soften a hard parachute landing immediately before touchdown (see retrorocket).


Apollo LES pad abort test with boilerplate crew module.
Rockets were used to propel a line to a stricken ship so that a Breeches buoy can be used to rescue those on board. Rockets are also used to launch emergency flares.
Some crewed rockets, notably the Saturn V and Soyuz have launch escape systems. This is a small, usually solid rocket that is capable of pulling the crewed capsule away from the main vehicle towards safety at a moments notice. These types of systems have been operated several times, both in testing and in flight, and operated correctly each time.
Solid rocket propelled ejection seats are used in many military aircraft to propel crew away to safety from a vehicle when flight control is lost.

Hobby, sport and entertainment

Hobbyists build and fly a wide variety of model rockets. Many companies produce model rocket kits and parts but due to their inherent simplicity some hobbyists have been known to make rockets out of almost anything. Rockets are also used in some types of consumer and professional fireworks.
Hydrogen peroxide rockets are used to power jet packs, and have been used to power cars and a rocket car holds the all time (though unofficial) drag racing record.
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