Timeline of rocket and missile technology

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A depiction of the "long serpent" rocket launcher from the 11th century book Wujing Zongyao. The holes in the frame are designed to keep the fire arrows separate.

This article gives a concise timeline of rocket and missile technology.

1st Century[edit]

11th century[edit]

17th Century ~ 19th Century[edit]

20th century[edit]

  • 1902 - The first Moon Movie. A Trip to the Moon (French: Voyage dans la Lune)[a] is a French silent film directed by Georges Méliès.
  • 1903 - Konstantin Tsiolkovsky begins a series of papers discussing the use of rocketry to reach outer space, space suits, and colonization of the solar system. Two key points discussed in his works are liquid fuels and staging.
  • 1922 - Hermann Oberth publishes Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen ("By Rocket into Planetary Space").
  • 1929 - Woman in the Moon, considered to be one of the first "serious" science fiction films.
  • 1941 - Jet Assisted Take Off JATO installed on US Army Air Corp Ercoup aircraft occurred on 12 August in March Field, California.
  • 1942 - A V-2 rocket becomes the first man-made object in space.
  • 1949 - Willy Ley publishes The Conquest of Space
  • 1952 - Wernher von Braun discusses the technical details of a manned exploration of Mars in The Mars Project.
  • 1953 - Colliers Magazine publishes a series of articles on man's future in space, igniting the interest of people around the world. The series includes numerous articles by Ley and von Braun, illustrated by Chesley Bonestell.
  • 1957 - The USSR launches Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite.
  • 1958 - The U.S. launches Explorer 1, the first American artificial satellite, on a Jupiter-C rocket.
  • 1958 - US launches their first ICBM, the Atlas-B (the Atlas-A was a test article only).
  • 1961 - the USSR launches Vostok 1, Yuri Gagarin reached a height of 327 km above Earth and was the first man to orbit earth.
  • 1963 - The USSR launches Vostok 6, Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman (and first civilian) to orbit earth. She remained in space for nearly three days and orbited the earth 48 times.
  • 1963 - US X-15 rocket-plane, the first reusable manned spacecraft (suborbital) reaches space, pioneering reusability, carried launch and glide landings.
  • 1965 - USSR Proton rocket, highly successful launch vehicle with notable payloads, Salyut 6 & Salyut 7, Mir & ISS components
  • 1965 - Robert Salked investigates various single stage to orbit spaceplane concepts[4][5][6]
  • 1966 - USSR Luna 9, the first soft landing on the Moon
  • 1966 - USSR launches Soyuz spacecraft, longest-running series of spacecraft, eventually serving Soviet, Russian and International space missions.
  • 1969 - US Apollo 11, first men on the Moon, first lunar surface extravehicular activity.
  • 1981 - US space shuttle pioneers reusability and glide landings

21st century[edit]

  • 2004 - US-based, first privately developed, manned (suborbital) spaceflight, SpaceShipOne demonstrates reusability


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Winter, Frank H. (1992). "Who First Flew in a Rocket?", Journal of the British Interplanetary Society 45 (July 1992), p. 275-80
  2. ^ http://history.msfc.nasa.gov/rocketry/14.html
  3. ^ Levenda, Peter (2002). Unholy alliance: a history of Nazi involvement with the occult. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 244–245. ISBN 9780826414090. "Further, it was probably no secret at all to American and British officials..." 
  4. ^ Salkeld Shuttle
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ [2]