How are controlled explosions made just right so that they’ll generate the kind of thrust that sends a rocket up, up, up and beyond our atmosphere?

Analytical Chemist Raychelle Burks, Ph.D., explains how solid and liquid propellants create the “ride-able explosions” that can majestically demonstrate Newton’s third law of motion. There’s also some illustrative help by the Kerbal Space Program video game.

Fun fact: Rockets have to travel about 25,000 miles per hour to get into space… that’s at least seven miles per second. Seven. Miles. Per. Second.

In the archives: more incredible rockets.