How do rockets work?

Have you ever wondered how rockets work? What kind of fuel do they use to go into space? Or how strong and powerful their engine is? Or even who invented rockets?

We will start from the beginning: commonly, we understad the word “rocket” as space rocket, however, rockets are more than just space rockets. A rocket can be an engine, as well as a vehicle that uses a rocket engine (like a space rocket, a missile, or an aircraft).

The first rocket was invented in China, in the 13th century; they were used as fireworks and for military and war purposes. One of the first examples of rockets is the one called “was nest”, a fire arrow launcher used in war and battles in China.

After this early creation of rockets, they were spread around the world, starting in Mongolia and continuing in the Middle East, India, Korea and finally Europe around the 14th century.


How do rocket engines work?

If we want to know how a space rocket works, we need to find out how its engine works, as well as to understand what the Newton´s third law of motion is. This law is very important to acknowledge the way that rockets move into space: Newton´s law of motion stablishes that if an object A produces a force against an object B, then object B must produce the same force in the opposite direction, against object A. In other words: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

An example of this can be found in, as you can imagine, space rockets. Space Rockets work by ejecting gas backwards at a very high speed in the rocket combustion chamber, producing the same force magnitude in the opposite way on the rocket. In this way, rockets do not propel themselves by pushing against the ground, but by pushing the rocket chamber against the rocket. This force is called thrust.

In the other hand, this force called thrust works in rocket engines by burning fuel, turning it into gas and moving the rocket forward as a result. As in space there is no oxygen, rockets must be provided with this element in order to work, for this reason, ammonium perchlorate is a perfect element to be used as solid rocket fuel, given that it creates oxygen during its combustion.

Commonly, we diferenciate between two kinds of rockets depending on how it’s propelled: solid chemical rockets (these are the ones that use ammonium perchlorate) and liquid rocket propellants. However, we can speak about other types of rockets, such as: hybrid propellants, gaseous propellants and inert propellants.

Ammonium perchlorate as solid rocket propellant fuel

The first kind of rocket were solid fuel based, using gunpowder as propellant. Although nowadays it´s more common to use liquid-propellant rockets for their efficiency and possibilities, solid rockets are still used due to their simplicity and the durability of their components.

In this kind of propellants, ammonium perchlorate has a very important role among aluminum and other substances: as we know, aluminum is a highly reactive mineral, not being able to be found in nature by iself, but combined with other elements. Ammonium perchlorate is burned, achieving more than 5000 degrees Fahrenheit, creating oxygen, which is mixed with aluminum, having as a result aluminum oxide, aluminum chloride, water vapor, and nitrogen gas, producing a incredibly amount of energy that will propel the rocket. Thanks to the heat accumulated inside the booster, the oxygen and the water vapor expand, propelling these substances backwards and, consequently, creating thrust and helping the rocket leave the ground.

Ammonium perchlorate is used in other areas apart from the space industry, like in military or pyrotechnics. Aldebarán Sistemas S.L. work to offer the best services and the highest quality and safety standards to every client. They also are one of the few companies that possess the right to offer ammonium perchlorate to buy thanks to, as we said right before, their safety and quality standards. For this reason, if you have any kind of query, don´t hesitate to contact us, we will be pleased to answer your questions and queries.