History: After Fireworks Came Weapons and Spacecraft

  • Mark Denny
  • Alan McFadzean


The history of these strange machines places everything else about them in context. We will have a better idea of rocket future by knowing something of rocket past. In fact, the history of rocketry and rocketeers is very interesting anyway. So we begin our account of rocket science with its origins, both technical and intellectual (the engineering and the physics, respectively).

Reference Works

  1. Andrade, T. The Gunpowder Age: China, Military Innovation, and the Rise of the West in World History. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baklitskaya, K. “The remarkable (and censored) Siberian adventure of stray dog cosmonauts Comet and Shutka,” Siberian Times, May 1, 2013.Google Scholar
  3. Barber, M. V2: The A4 Rocket from Peenemunde to Redstone. (Manchester, UK: Crecy Publishing, 2017).Google Scholar
  4. Bergaust, E. Wernher von Braun. (London: Stackpole Books, 2017).Google Scholar
  5. Bizony, P. The Man Who Ran the Moon: James E. Webb, Nasa, and the Secret History of Project Apollo. (New York: Basic Books, 2007).Google Scholar
  6. Burgess, C. and C. Dubbs. Animals in Space—From Research Rockets to the Space Shuttle. (Berlin: Springer-Praxis, 2007).Google Scholar
  7. Cadbury, D. Space Race: The Epic Battle Between America and the Soviet Union for Dominion of Space. (New York: Harper Perennial, 2007).Google Scholar
  8. Carter, A. and D.N. Schwartz. Ballistic Missile Defense. (Washington, DC: Brookings Institute, 1984).Google Scholar
  9. Chertok, B. and A. Siddiqi. Rockets and People: Volume 1. (Washington, DC: NASA, 2005).Google Scholar
  10. Cimbala, S.J. Nuclear Strategy in the Twenty First Century. (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2000).Google Scholar
  11. Denny, M. (2011). Their Arrows Will Darken the Sun: The Evolution and Science of Ballistics. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press).Google Scholar
  12. Duncan, B. and M. Gibbs. Please God Send Me A Wreck. (New York: Springer, 2015).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Feuerbach, A. “Crucible Damascus Steel: A Fascination for Almost 2,000 Years.” JOM (May, 2006), 48–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Freeman, M. How We Got to the Moon: The Story of the German Space Pioneers. (Washington, DC: Century Science Associates, 1993).Google Scholar
  15. Fries, S.D. NASA Engineers and the Age of Apollo. (Washington, DC: NASA, 1992).Google Scholar
  16. Gainor, C. To a Distant Day: The Rocket Pioneers. (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Goddard, R.H. Rockets. (New York: Dover, 2002).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gruntman, M. Blazing the Trail—The Early History of Spacecraft and Rocketry. (Reston, VA: AIAA, 2004).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gruntman, M. From Astronautics to Cosmonautics. (Charleston, SC: BookSurge Publishing, 2007).Google Scholar
  20. Hacker, B.C. American Military Technology. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006).Google Scholar
  21. Hall, B.S. Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997).Google Scholar
  22. Harford, J. Korolev: How One Man Masterminded the Soviet Drive to Beat America to the Moon. (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, 1997).Google Scholar
  23. Heppenheimer, T.A. Countdown: A History of Space Flight. (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1997).Google Scholar
  24. Hunley, J.D. “The Enigma of Robert H. Goddard.” Technology and Culture 36 (1995) 327–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Johnson, S.B. The Secret of Apollo: Systems Management in the American and European Space Programs. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006).Google Scholar
  26. Kelly, J. Gunpowder: Alchemy, Bombards and Pyrotechnics. (New York: Basic Books, 2004).Google Scholar
  27. Kennedy, G.P. Germany’s V-2 Rocket. (Lancaster, PA: Schiffer Military History, 2006).Google Scholar
  28. Kosmodemyansky, A. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky—His Life and Work. (Honolulu, HI: UPP, 2000).Google Scholar
  29. Lehman, M. This High Man: The Life of Robert H. Goddard. (New York: Farrar Straus, 1963).Google Scholar
  30. Leonov, A, and D. Scott. Two Sides of the Moon: Our Story of the Cold War Space Race. (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2006).Google Scholar
  31. Liang, J. Chinese Siege Warfare: Mechanical Artillery and Siege Weapons of Antiquity. (Singapore: Da Pao Publishing, 2006).Google Scholar
  32. Moye, D. “The First Cat In Space May Finally Get The Recognition She Deserves.” Huffington Post, October 20, 2017.Google Scholar
  33. Mudgway, D.J. William H. Pickering. (Washington, DC: NASA, 2008).Google Scholar
  34. Narasimha, R. Rockets in Mysore and Britain, 1750-1850 A.D. Lecture delivered on 2 April 1985 at the inauguration of the Centre for History and Philosophy of Science, Indian Institute of World Culture, Bangalore. Available online at
  35. National Geographic. Animals in Space. (November 3, 2015).Google Scholar
  36. Needham, J. Science and Civilization in China, Vol. 5 part 7: The Gunpowder Epic. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986).Google Scholar
  37. Nelson, C. Rocket Men—The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon. (New York: Penguin, 2009).Google Scholar
  38. Neufeld, M. The Rocket and the Reich: Peenemünde and the Coming of the Ballistic Missile Era. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996).Google Scholar
  39. Oberth, H. The Rocket Into Planetary Space. (Berlin, de Gruyter, 2014).Google Scholar
  40. Pacey, A. Technology in World Civilization: A Thousand Year History. (Boston: MIT Press, 1991).Google Scholar
  41. Partington, J.R. A History of Greek Fire and Gunpowder. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999).Google Scholar
  42. Pauly, R. Firearms—The Life Story of a Technology. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004).Google Scholar
  43. Phillips, E. “The Hale Rocket and Rocket Launcher—The American Connection.” American Society of Arms Collectors Bulletin 82 (2000), 7–15.Google Scholar
  44. Potter, C. The Earth Gazers. (London: Head of Zeus, 2017).Google Scholar
  45. Rauschenbach, B.V. Hermann Oberth: The Father of Space Flight 1894-1989. (New York: West Art Pub, 1994).Google Scholar
  46. Rogers, L. It’s ONLY Rocket Science. (New York: Springer, 2008).Google Scholar
  47. Schefter, J. The Race. (New York: Doubleday, 1999).Google Scholar
  48. Siddiqi, A. Sputnik and the Soviet Space Challenge. (Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press, 2003).Google Scholar
  49. Smith, M.G. Rockets and Revolution—A Cultural History of Early Spaceflight. (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2014).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Sutton, G.P. History of Liquid Propellant Rocket Engines. (Reston, VA: AIAA, 2006).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Teitel, A.S. Breaking the Chains of Gravity—The Story of Spaceflight Before NASA. (New York: Bloomsbury Sigma, 2015).Google Scholar
  52. Toynbee, A.J. A Study of History. Abridgement of Volumes VII-X by D.C. Somervell (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967), p267.Google Scholar
  53. Turner, M.J.L. Rocket and Spacecraft Propulsion. (Berlin: Springer, 2009).Google Scholar
  54. United States Government. The Development of Ballistic Missiles in the United States Air Force 1945-1960. (Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History, 1990).Google Scholar
  55. van Riper, A. B., Rockets and missiles : the life story of a technology (Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing, 2004).Google Scholar
  56. Walters, H.B. Hermann Oberth: Father of Space Travel. (London: Macmillan, 1962).Google Scholar
  57. Ward, J.H. Rocket Ranch—The Nuts and Bolts of the Apollo Moon Program at the Kennedy Space Center. (Heidelberg, Springer, 2015).Google Scholar
  58. Ward, R.J. Dr. Space: The Life of Wernher von Braun. (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2005).Google Scholar
  59. Weil, M. “George Mueller: Nasa engineer whose decision-making played a significant part in the Apollo 11 moon landing.” Independent, October 19, 2015.Google Scholar
  60. Well, M. “George Mueller, NASA engineer who helped enable moon landing, dies at 97.” Washington Post, October 17, 2015.Google Scholar
  61. Werrett, S. “William Congreve’s rational rockets.” Royal Society Journal of the History of Science, March 20, 2009. DOI: Scholar
  62. Wilford, J.N. “Ancient Smelter Used Wind To Make High-Grade Steel.” New York Times (February 6, 2006).Google Scholar
  63. Winter, F. “The Rockets That Inspired Francis Scott Key”. Air and Space Magazine, Sep. 2014.Google Scholar
  64. Wolfe, T. The Right Stuff. (New York: Picador, 1979).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Denny
    • 1
  • Alan McFadzean
    • 2
  1. 1.VictoriaCanada
  2. 2.EdinburghUK

Personalised recommendations