One interesting rocket fact for kids is that the first rockets were used and launched in China during the Sung Dynasty from A.D. 960 to 1279. The first rocket to ever reach and cross the boundary of space, 100 kilometers from the surface of the Earth, was the German V2, a ballistic missile used by the Nazis during World War II.
The makeshift rockets that the Chinese experimented with were first used to create explosions and noise for religious festivals but evolved into a weapon during the Kai-Keng war with the Mongols. These were not typical rockets with an engine, however, but rather bamboo tubes filled with gunpowder made from saltpeter, charcoal dust and sulfur. The Chinese devised a fire arrow, which is a simple arrow with a gunpowder-filled bamboo tube attached to it. The Mongols copied the rockets made by the Chinese and are believed to have spread the use of rockets across Europe.
Launched in 1942, the V2 was designed by aerospace engineer and space architect Wernher von Braun. After the war, von Braun worked with NASA in the United States during the organization's infancy. Von Braun is also the chief architect of the Saturn V, the superbooster rocket that propelled the Apollo missions to the moon.