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Type of jet-propulsion device that uses either solid or liquid propellants to provide the fuel and oxidizer needed for combustion. The hot gases provided by combustion are ejected in a jet through a nozzle at the rear of the rocket. The term is also commonly applied to any of various vehicles, including fireworks, skyrockets, guided missiles, and launch vehicles for spacecraft, that are driven by such a propulsive device. Typically, thrust (force causing forward motion) is produced by reaction to a rearward expulsion of hot gases at extremely high speed (seeNewton's laws of motion).
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on rocket, visit Britannica.com.