Ancient Chinese Rockets

Information About Ancient Chinese Rockets

China is credited with many inventions and discoveries that have changed the world as we know it. They discovered gunpowder and started finding many different uses for it. One such use was ancient Chinese rockets. This very technology eventually became the basis of rockets used for space exploration, but of course these ones don't explode.

Ancient Chinese Rockets

Even before gunpowder, the Chinese were using the term rocket. In the year 228 the Ancient Chinese used arrows which were lit with fire to defend an area of the country from intruders. This created a new word which literally meant fire arrow; this is the same word in Chinese for rocket.

These fire arrows were used as a way to set fires and defend from large numbers of invading troops

Gunpowder Chinese Rockets

During the Song Dynasty, they started to use gunpowder to make ancient Chinese rockets. The construction process was quite complicated. First a tube was rolled from paper and then the gunpowder was packed into the tube. The tube was then fixed to an arrow and would be launched by a bow.

This is the first time that something resembling a modern rocket ever existed. However, at this time they needed to be propelled by a bow rather than just being lit.

The idea of gunpowder in rockets was refined considerably. Special hollow arrows were made which could contain the gunpowder inside. This could make a large bang which was normally enough to frighten most people away.

Construction of Ancient Chinese Rockets

The ancient Chinese rockets which were used at that time were made from a hollow barrel filled with gunpowder, feather, arrow head and arrow barrel. This provided a good mix for a rocket and later models were capable of propelling themselves.

The arrowheads sharp point cut through the air and reduced drag. The rocket shot backwards because of the pressure which built up inside the tube and forced the rocket in the other direction.

The feather was also used to stabilize the rocket and prevent it from spinning out of control. And the barrel was also very similar to the actual body of the rockets that are used for space exploration today; the only difference is that they are on a much bigger scale.

Uses of Ancient Chinese Rockets

The ancient rockets developed by the Chinese were used for military campaigns and they were also developed into fireworks which were used for entertainment and celebrations.


Like any other ancient Chinese invention, the rockets were continually improved and refined. During the 12th century the rockets were improved which gave them a greater range. They were used during many wars throughout the Yuan and Qing dynasties.

Many new types of rocket were developed, each with its own special use and purpose. The nine dragon arrow is one of the most famous, and the flock of bee arrow is actually much more similar to the modern rockets you see today.

The Ancient Chinese are responsible for a great deal of inventions from the ancient world. The knowledge of rockets is not only used to create missiles, but also to explore space with.

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