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Rockets History


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Europeans Make Fireworks
Russian Czar, Peter The Great - History of Rockets

Russian Czar, Peter The Great

UT Austin, Perry-Castaneda Library (
The first record we have of Europeans using rockets in warfare was in 1379 at the siege of Chioggia, Italy. The Italians used the term "rochetto" for these new devices, taking the name from yarn-making spools with a similar shape. Later, the British changed "rochetto" to the English word rocket.

There was a lot of early experimentation in Europe with rockets. German, Konrad Keyser launched a kite with a rocket. Italian, Joanes de Fontana completed many new designs and drawings of rocket ideas. Romanian, Conrad Haas conceived 2 stage rockets as well as rockets designed to explode on impact. He also came up with the concept of fins, instead of stick, to balance the rockets.

While Russian Czar, Peter the Great, had a rocket factory built in Russia and used them to light battlefields and for signals, most rulers were more interested in using rockets for firework displays. Music was commissioned from famous composers to accompany the displays, which were grander than those of today. The Italians invented pyrotechnics, the art and science of fireworks, creating "royal" families of pyrotechnic artists, carrying the tradition through the generations.

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