For Kids: Information About Rockets!

Learn all about rockets, including where they were invented, what gives them thrust, how they blast off and how they power the space shuttles!

Rockets fly in the air, but not like airplanes or helicopters. They are much faster and more powerful. They can fly straight up with such force that they pass through the atmosphere into outer space!

Hundreds of years ago, rockets were invented in China. The first rockets were shaped like arrows and they were not very powerful. The power of early rockets came from gunpowder.


The shape of rockets has changed. They are now wider for their length and they have big fins on the bottom. The fins help the rocket stay on course. Rockets are also much more powerful than they were in the past.

A rocket can only take off when a blast of energy forces it to move. The energy is created by some kind of fuel. Gunpowder was not a very good source for energy. Today, two liquid fuels are mixed together and as they burn hot gases are created. The gases shoot out the back of the rocket, pushing it off the ground and up into the air.

That push off the ground is called "thrust," and the rocket is "launched" into the air. When the rocket is launched, it is said to "blast off."


Rockets are used to power the space shuttles, which orbit the earth and explore outer space, too. They must have enough power and speed to break away from the earth's gravity and push through the atmosphere. Their fuel enables them to travel at 24,000 miles per hour!

Saturn 5 is the largest rocket ever built. It had five rocket engines and was taller than a 30-story building. It took the first men to the moon.


Try this to see how thrust works:

Connect a garden hose to the faucet in your yard. The shorter the hose, the better.

Put the hose on the ground.

Turn on the water full force.

What happens?

The hose moves backward from the force of the water. This is thrust. The water acts like the gases of the rocket.


You can also see how thrust works by using a balloon.

Blow up the balloon and pinch the end closed with your fingers.

Let it go.

As the air rushes out, the balloon will fly in the opposite direction. Thrust. Now, the air is like the rocket gases.


Rockets are powerful! Blast off!

© High Speed Ventures 2011