In his novels 'From the Earth to the Moon', and 'Around the Moon', Jules Verne writes about a set of rockets fitted to the spacecraft he imagined, that were intended to be fired in order to slow down the fall to the moon's surface. Later in the adventure, they are indeed fired, but in order to change the trajectory...

Verne wrote all that in the 1860's. Was he the first to propose the retro-rocket?

From the Earth to the Moon Around the Moon

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    $\begingroup$ It's a good question. If there is no answer forthcoming after a while, there is also a History of Science and Math SE site as well, but it may be answered here. Have a look at this question and multiple answers: When did the concept of “stages” enter rocketry? as an example of "rocket history" answers. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 12:35
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    $\begingroup$ It sounds like we can cross Cyrano de Bergerac off the list of potential alternate first-proposers of the retro-rocket concept, though he may have indeed "proposed" other concepts. ;-) $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 13:53
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    $\begingroup$ It was actually tested on a Jeep in 1946. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 24, 2020 at 6:21
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    $\begingroup$ You'd probably have to win a close-war, but I think this would be on-topic, nearly verbatim, at SF&F. Who was the first to propose the retro-rocket concept? $\endgroup$
    – Mazura
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 4:25

1 Answer 1


The idea of using a rocket for retrograde propulsion to slow down likely dates back as far as the Sibiu manuscript by Conrad Haas from the mid 16th century, or Johann Schmidlap's book "Künstliche und rechtschaffene Fewrwerck zum Schimpff" from 1561:

sibiu schmidlap

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    $\begingroup$ Holy smokes, this is from the sixteenth century? I didn't know the concept existed 500 years ago, sheesh. I see what looks like a rocket engine in these photos, but how do you figure it was intended for retrograde fire? $\endgroup$
    – BMF
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 23:23

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