DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
German V-2 rocket during launch. The V-2 rocket (Vergeltungswaffe, Vengeance Weapon), initially known as the A-4, was the world's first ballistic missile, and the first to achieve sub-orbital flight. It was designed by Wernher von Braun and Klaus Riedel as part of a German military research team and first flew in 1942, during World War II. It measured 14 metres in length, carried nearly a tonne of explosive, and could reach a height of 80 kilometres. From September 1944 to March 1945, over 3000 V-2 rockets were launched at London, Antwerp and Liege and are estimated to have killed 9000 people.
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