What is Rocket Science?

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Rocket science is the science behind getting rockets into outer space. More formally, it's aerospace engineering. The field requires a wide range of knowledge of physics, aerodynamics, mathematics, propulsion dynamics, and other types of science and math. A rocket scientist, or aerospace engineer, may specialize in one or more fields of study, and this will determine what kind of job he or she looks for.

Anything that gets and keeps a spacecraft in outer space is included under the rocket science umbrella. For instance, an aerospace engineer who specializes in chemistry and propulsion dynamics may work on a spacecraft’s fuel issues. This person will need to know how much propellant, and what kind, will launch a spacecraft most efficiently.

The field also includes design. Someone had to design the space shuttle, for example, and those aerospace engineers specialized in formulating the plans for the world’s first reusable spacecraft. Then metallurgical engineers and their crews took over, deciding what kind of metals would be best for the shuttle’s body and frame. Scientists considered what the robot arm be made from, how much weight it be able to support, and how much weight (or payload) the shuttle carry and safely launch.


Even though the technology is mostly obsolete, viewing the movie Apollo 13 will give someone a good idea of everything this field entails. As the call goes around the room for a go/no-go for launch, those at each station answer for their particular responsibility for the spacecraft: booster, retro, electrical and environmental, guidance, flight dynamics, etc. Later in the film, the engineers come up with a solution for fitting the command module’s square lithium hydroxide canisters into the round receptacles for the lunar module. This project also required a number of specialists in various fields. Most aerospace engineers have master’s degrees, if not doctoral degrees, in their field, so a job in aerospace engineering requires extensive education.


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Post 8

I wonder if I can use the formula to use to power other things like cars, jets and airplanes.

Post 6

Mechanical engineers created thermodynamics before the scientists got on to it.

Post 5

Why do scientists like you make a lot of noise? Perhaps you don't know that for every scientific discovery there is the work of a mathematician to help prove it.

The mathematicians have given us the means to prove the scientific laws here on earth, and you guys make use of these numerical analysis methods. Can you name any scientific discovery, that was made into a law, that did not have to first be quantified? Without Differential Equations, Linear Algebra, or Calculus the scientists would just give presentations of the phenomenon they observe without proving anything. Therefore, be quiet! Don't cry because you cannot be a mathematician.

Post 4

Why do engineers like you make a lot of noise? Perhaps you don't know that for every invention there is a scientist behind it.

The scientist discovers laws that guide every activity here on earth, and you guys make use of these laws. Can you name any aspect of engineering that did not emanate from science? For example, without mechanics in physics there is no mechanical engineering, without electricity (remember Faraday) there is no electrical engineering, without aerodynamics/ballistics there will be no aeronautical engineering, without solidstates/quantum physics there is no electronic engineering, with radioactivity (remember Becquerel and Curie) there is no nuclear engineering, without Konstantin and Robert Goddard there is no rocket engineering. Therefore, be quiet! Don't cry because you cannot be a scientist.

Post 1

I would point out that there is no such thing as a rocket scientist. Engineers design rockets, so it should be 'rocket engineer' and 'rocket engineering'. Even NASA acknowledges this.

Scientists are not engineers and vice versa unless they have the necessary qualifications. Engineers should get credit for their achievements.

F. Lynch

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