Parts of a Rocket: Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:04 What Do Rockets Do?
  • 0:31 Four Main Parts
  • 0:51 Structure & Payload
  • 1:41 Guidance & Propulsion
  • 2:58 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kathryn Miedema Dominguez

Kathryn has taught elementary students for over ten years and has her master's degree in elementary education.

Rockets are simple yet forceful machines that propel objects into the air. They have many pieces, but there are four main parts of a rocket. In this lesson, you'll learn about the structure, payload, guidance, and propulsion systems of rockets.

What Do Rockets Do?

Have you seen fireworks that shoot up really high in the sky? These fireworks reach such heights because of rockets, and they were the first rockets made by the Chinese. A rocket's main purpose is to get people or things into the air. Many improvements were made to firework rocket designs in order to launch missiles during times of war. Later on, rocket designs advanced to transport satellites and space shuttles into outer space.

Four Main Parts

There are four main parts of a rocket that are made up of various other parts. The four main parts are the structure (body), payload, guidance, and propulsion. These parts are usually stacked on top of each other. The payload is the top, then the guidance, and lastly the propulsion.

Structure & Payload

The structure is the frame of the rocket. It is in the shape of a cylinder, with a pointed nose and fins. Although space shuttle rockets can weigh hundreds of thousands of pounds, they need to be as light as possible to be propelled into outer space. On the same note, they also need to be strong enough to withstand the large thrust from the ground.

The payload is the pointed nose of the rocket that can be fireworks, a missile, a satellite, or a space shuttle. The first rockets were designed to get fireworks high in the sky to explode for entertainment during a celebration. Then, during World War II, explosives were placed in the payload and launched to destroy targets. Later, spacecraft were designed and positioned in the payload to be launched into outer space. Today, rockets are still used for fireworks, missiles, and spacecraft.

Guidance & Propulsion

How does the rocket control its movement? The guidance portion of a rocket helps to keep the rocket stable during takeoff and controls the rocket when it needs to move. It is like the brain of the rocket and contains computers, radars, and sensors. After the rocket launches, the guidance system directs it to its intended location.

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