Rockets in India

  • Roddam Narasimha
Living reference work entry


Fire arrows in some form have been known for thousands of years in several cultures (agni-bāṇa in Sanskrit). In contrast to arrows (even fire tipped) which are shot with the help of the stored elastic energy of a bowstring, rockets are entirely self-propelled, usually by conversion of the chemical energy stored in the propellant(s).

It is generally agreed that rockets were in use in China in the eleventh century CE, perhaps in the form of what we might now term a “rocket-assisted arrow”; over time the arrow came to be discarded as the rocket became sufficiently powerful to serve as a destructive warhead by itself. In 1232 CE, five years after Genghis Khan’s death, Chinese rocket barrages repeatedly repulsed Mongolian cavalry led by his successors in attacks on the city of Kaifeng (which nevertheless fell in 1233; Grousset, 1965). The invention traveled rapidly (presumably through the Mongols) to Europe, where it was first mentioned in 1258 CE and was experimented with and...


Eighteenth Century Tacit Knowledge East India Company Baltimore Harbor Hindu Temple 
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I am grateful to the Indian National Science Academy for allowing me to make liberal use of the material in my article on ‘Rockets in Mysore and Britain (AD 1750-1850)’ in the Academy’s publication History of Technology in India, Vol. II (ed. H. Mukhia), 2012.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Engineering Mechanics UnitJawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific ResearchBangaloreIndia