Rockets and Missiles (Encyclopedia of Science)
The term rocket is used in two different ways: (1) it is used to describe a jet engine that does not depend on air for its operation but instead carries its own fuel and oxidizing agent, and (2) it is used to describe any vehicle that is powered by a rocket engine.
For example, a fireworks device is a kind of rocket engine. It contains the fuel and oxidizing agent needed to put it into the air as well as the chemicals needed to give the colored display typical of fireworks. A rocket fired to the Moon illustrates both meanings of the term. The vehicle itself carries a rocket engine as well as living quarters for humans, equipment for experiments, instruments needed for communication, and other units. The rocket in this case is both the engine that propels the vehicle and the vehicle itself.
A missile is an unmanned vehicle propelled through space, usually carrying some type of explosive device intended to do harm to an enemy. A missile, like a rocket, usually carries its own means of propulsion. It may also carry its own guidance system or, alternatively, it may be guided by a ground-based command center.
Rockets have two primary functions. First, they are used to carry out research on Earth's atmosphere, other parts of the solar system, and outer space. Rockets designed to carry instruments no farther than the upper levels of the atmosphere are known...
(The entire section is 2694 words.)
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