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Simplified Explanation of How Rocket A Engine Operates

Simplified Explanation of How Rocket A Engine Operates

How Rocket A Engine Operates

The term ‘rocket’ refers to the popular rocket engine that carries spaceships to space. However, the rocket is an engine. It is a power source that creates thrust on the body it is attached. In other words, the rocket is not limited to space travel. There are high-speed planes that are powered by a rocket engine.

Rocket is a general term is any rocket engine-powered machine that can be used to create thrust for acceleration and forward movement. Rocket comprises of rocket engine because of the simplicity of rocket engine, it could be referred to as a rocket.

The sole purpose of a rocket engine is to produce tremendous thrust to push the engine and its entire body component forward. This post will be discussing some of the vital information you need to know about the rocket and its engine.


The working principle of the rocket engine is based on newton’s third law of motion which states that ‘for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction’. This is the principle that governs most of the engines made so far but in the case of a rocket engine, it is a simplified illustration of newton’s third law of motion.

How Rocket A Engine Operates

When you are standing on a skateboard and hold a flexible water hose that is pumping out water with high pressure, you will notice that you will begin to roll backward in the opposite direction of the water being pumped out of the hose.

When you inflate a balloon with air and allow it to deflate in open space, it will make a loud rattling noise and will be flying away as the air escapes from its nozzle.

Assuming you have noticed the strong backward thrust that shakes an armored tank whenever it fires a shot.

You can as well consider what happens whenever you fire gunpowder and notice the reverse push on your shoulder.

The above illustrations are good examples of ‘action and its equal and opposite reaction’ as stated by newton’s third law of motion.

This law had been the fundamental principle guiding the making of rocket engines. While the internal combustion engines create rotational motion to drive shafts, and turbines provide rotational motion to drive shafts, the rocket engine does not create rotational motion to rotate the shaft rather, it creates pushing force known as thrust to propel its entire body forward.

It is referred to as a reaction engine because it burnt gas and oxygen and use the high temperature and pressure generated from the combustion to provide high thrust by expelling the burnt gases through tiny holes known as nozzles thereby increasing the pressure further and causing the entire body of the engine to move forward as an opposite and equal reaction from the high pressure burnt gases escaping through the nozzles.


A simple Rocket engine is one of the simplest engines in terms of design because of its simple working principle that requires few working components to make a simple one according to Chris Woodford’s post on however, it is not the same with a space rocket.

Space rocket engine design is complex because a lot of considerations are used in making them based on the complexity involved in space travel.

But conventional rocket engine built for practical purposes consists of the fuel tank, the oxidant, and the combustion chamber. The carrier forms the housing as well as the nozzles where the hot gases escape from the engine.

In the presence of oxygen supply, the rocket engine burns liquid hydrogen in a combustion chamber to generate high temperature and pressure exhaust gas which escapes through the nozzles below the combustion chamber. The escape pressure creates a reaction force knowns as thrust on the entire engine and any component attached to it.

Consider a simple rocket engine as your gas cylinder filled with liquid hydrogen and has a space created below it for combustion in the presence of a high oxygen supply. Then a small nozzle allows the burnt gas to escape. See the diagram below as an example.

How Rocket A Engine Operates


The theories behind the rocket engine could be dated far back to 700 to 900 AD when the Chinese invented gun powder and used fireworks that seems like rockets in 1232. The Chinese referred to the fireworks as “arrows of flying fire”.

The book titled “From the Earth to the Moon” published in 1865 was written by a French writer Jules Verne. It gave little idea on the idea of traveling to the moon.

In the year 1865, a fascinating story about the idea of an artificial navigation satellite was written by Edward Everett Hale. While in the year 1903, a Russian teacher known as Konstantin Tsiolkovsky proposed an idea of liquid-fueled rockets, rocket stages, and rocket equation which happens to become the basic math for space travel. His book was title “A Rocket into Cosmic Space”.

Robert Hutchings Goddard a US physics professor made a 70-page report in 1916 title ‘A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes’ the report also carried a suggestion for sending a rocket to the moon.

In the year 1923, a German physicist, Hermann Oberth published a book titled ‘The Rocket into Interplanetary Space’. The book explained how rockets can operate in a vacuum space.

How Rocket A Engine Operates

Meanwhile, the first practical liquid-fueled rocket was launched on March 16, 1926, by Robert Hutchings Goddard.


The above theories tell how the journey to the making of the rocket engine began. After the invention of the liquid-fueled rocket, they making of rocket engines started coming in different formats both for missile delivery during WW2 and attempts for space missions.


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