Part of a new oSpace Innovationso series, this volume joins others on satellites, robot explorers, and a discussion of space exploration. Here Miller describes the history of rocket science, beginning in ancient China, where saltpeter, sulfur, and charcoal were first combined to create gunpowder. Although the Chinese tried to use gunpowder and rockets in warfare, inability to aim kept them from being truly useful as weapons, relegating them to being used largely for entertainment. Europeans were using gunpowder as early as 1249 but had similar problems adapting it to warfare. As time and technology progressed, though, rockets and gunpowder played a crucial role in war. Miller highlights many of these moments, such as the writing of "The Star Spangled Banner" by the light of shooting rockets. Finally the author describes the use of rockets in space flight in the past one hundred years. The stories of the development of rockets through time are complemented by short biographies of important scientists such as Robert Goddard, stories of young model rocket makers, and sidebars explaining the science that makes rockets work. The book is generally readable for any high school-level student, although some might struggle with the science concepts as the book progresses and becomes more technical. It is a good choice for high school libraries, as well as for boys who are interested in science and nonfiction. Additional serried books cover satellites, space exploration, and robot explorers.
- Amie Rose Rotruck
For the past fifty years, almost every American has been aware of the importance of rockets. Rockets were integral to the space program as well as numerous wars; however, the history of rockets goes back much, much further, all the way to the ancient Chinese two-thousand years ago. After exploring the rocket's origins and evolution as a weapon through the nineteenth century, Miller then turns to the application of rockets to space travel. Tsiolkovsky and Goddard's concepts and experiments with using rockets to leave the Earth and travel into space are first examined. Next, Oberth's ideas and the formation of the Society for Space Travel are described. The development of rockets for space travel during the latter half of the twentieth century is then explained, as well as the future of rockets. This is a very well-rounded look at rockets. Not only is the science and history explained, the visionaries such as Jules Verne are also mentioned. It is part of the "Space Innovations" series.