“The first rockets were Chinese. In the 1230s the armies of the Song dynasty, who were fighting Mongol invaders, started launching “fire arrows” propelled by gunpowder some 300 metres into enemy lines. When the Song’s artillerymen realised that these arrows continued to fly straight even after their fiery exhaust had burned away their feathers, they removed the fletching and the rocket was born.” (The Economist, 2018, p.73).
The Economist. (2018) Commercial Space Flight in China: Fire Arrows. The Economist. 23 June 2018.