Science Art: Fig 2.1: Powder Rocket Projectile, 1956.

Scieintific illustration of a rocket from the 1950s.
Scieintific illustration of a rocket from the 1950s.

This is one of the first illustrations in V. I. Feodosiev’s and G. B. Siniarev’s Introduction to Rocketry, an English translation of a Russian text from 1956 done by the US Air Force’s Foreign Technology Division.

It’s a document from the dawn of the Space Race, in other words, when rockets were more about launching warheads as they were about exploring other worlds. (I suppose that might be just as true now, but we prefer to dwell on the exploration more than the explosions.) Chapter Two defines rockets at one point as “military pilotless vehicles designed to destroy [a] target,” and cautions us not to forget that some can have “atomic (nuclear) warheads.”

The chapter does start, however, with this more hopeful note:

Аѣ ргезепѣ wе use the word “rocket” іп its broadest sense to indicate the general class of so-called pilotless vehicles, і.е., vehicles which do not have a pilot on board to control the movement. We say “at present” because we know that the day is not far off when man will have advanced so far in rocketry that we will be able to use rockets as transportation media and for space flights.

Sooner than you think, comrade scientists.

The book got reprinted in many editions over the subsequent few decades, several of which are viewable at