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With rockets, space exploration is possible. Rockets allow us to go up into the virtually unknown parts of the universe and see what is there. Since the invention of the first rocket, we have seen the growth and development of newer, more advanced rockets. 

The most powerful rockets can carry heavy payloads and have solid rocket boosters. Some of the next rockets have made history and have accomplished important goals. Read this article to discover the world’s ten topmost powerful rockets.

What Are the 10 Most Powerful Rockets?

The following rockets are all quite impressive. These rockets have all contributed to the progression of space exploration. The most powerful rockets in the world include:

Falcon Heavy

This rocket is the most powerful operational rocket today, as it is in the process of building a bridge from Earth to Mars to create a colony. The rocket packs 27 Merlin 1 D engines, and each of its three boosters can deliver 1.7 million pounds of thrust. 

Three reusable boosters power it. When it held its demonstration flight in 2018, two out of three boosters successfully landed at Kennedy Space Center, which bolstered the notion of reusability in space flight. It can lift into orbit close to 64 metric tons. 

Delta IV Heavy 

The Delta IV Heavy is the most powerful rocket of all the Delta rockets, and United Launch Alliance launches Delta IVs from Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg Air Force Bases.  It can hold a 22,000 payload to the moon or a 17,600 payload to Mars transfer orbit. 

It is mainly a launch vehicle for the United States Air Force military payloads and has also been utilized for The United States government’s non-military payloads. This rocket’s retirement is set for 2023, and the Vulcan Centaur will replace The Delta IV Heavy and Atlas V.  

Space Shuttle

Operational from 1981 to 2011, the Space Shuttle became forever linked to American space exploration. Two solid rocket boosters provided the power required to send this rocket into orbit. Space Shuttle was the vehicle for many space launches. These included:

  • Atlantis
  • Challenger
  • Columbia
  • Discovery
  • Endeavor

The Space Shuttle, created by NASA, was the first operational orbital spacecraft constructed for reuse. Each space shuttle orbiter was projected to have ten years of operational life, which was later increased.  


The Soviet Union developed Energia to launch crewed spacecraft. It was a super heavy-lift launch vehicle; however, it was only launched twice. It was first test-launched in 1987 with the Polyus spacecraft as payload. The flight was expected to bring Polyus into orbit. 

A software error prevented the injection of payload into orbit. The second launch was in 1988, and the mission launched Soviet Shuttle vehicle, Buran. Production of Energia came to a halt when the Soviet Union collapsed. 

Saturn V

This rocket retired in 1973. It was and is the tallest, heaviest, and most powerful rocket ever flown. It was developed under the Apollo program for human exploration of the moon. It was the chief rocket used for Apollo moon missions. It was launched successfully from Kennedy Space Center. 

Today, the Saturn V is the only launch vehicle to carry humans beyond low Earth orbit. It also boasts records for the heaviest payload launched and the greatest payload capacity to low Earth orbit. Launched 13 times at the Kennedy Space Center, the Saturn V reported no loss of crew or payload. 

Space Launch System

The United States is presently actively building this rocket. It is 322 feet tall and is taller than the Statue of Liberty. Space Launch System is being made for NASA’s Orion program. The US built the Orion spacecraft to launch astronauts to the Moon and Mars. 

It is set to be the most powerful rocket that the United States has ever built. NASA is planning on Space Launch System’s first launch in early 2022. 

New Glenn 

This rocket was named after the famous astronaut John Glen. The New Glenn rocket was created in the United States and is currently in the development phase. It is a heavy-lift launch orbital vehicle, and it will be 230 and 322 feet tall. It will be a reusable rocket. It is scheduled to take off sometime in 2022. 

Ares 1

This rocket was the crew launch vehicle being developed by NASA for their constellation program. It was specifically designed to launch the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and carry astronauts to the International Space Station, the moon, and eventually Mars. 

The primary purpose of Ares 1 was to develop spacecraft and booster vehicles to replace the Space Shuttle. It was being designed to be a safe, dependable, and cost-effective space transportation system. Unfortunately, in 2010, President Obama announced a proposal to cancel the Constellation program. 

SpaceX Starship

The Starship rocket is currently in development in the United States. It is about 394 feet tall. The launch vehicle and spacecraft are specifically designed to bring people to Mars to build a primitive base on the planet. 

Also built by the private company owned by Elon Musk, SpaceX Starship is purported to be the world’s most powerful launch rocket ever made. It is set to be launched in 2022. 

Long March 9

Long March 9 is a Chinese rocket that is currently in development. It will be 338 feet tall with a diameter of 31 feet broad. It was conceived to be a simplified version of the American Saturn V.  The rocket was made to lead to long-term human stays on the moon potentially. It is scheduled to take off in 2030.

Privately Owned Space Exploration Companies

Falcon Heavy rocket was built by Space X, which is a company privately owned by Elon Musk. NASA has provided 278 million dollars to Space X to develop systems further to transfer cargo commercially to space stations. 

There have been many versions of Falcon until Falcon Heavy was introduced in 2018.  

Blue Origin LLC, owned by Jeff Bezos, manufactures privately funded orbital flight rockets. Their focus is the production of reusable rocket vehicles for the United Launch Alliance. Mr. Bezos recently tested his Blue Origin suborbital capsule in October 2021.

Actor William Shatner accompanied Bezos on this flight.  

Virgin Galactic, owned by Sir Richard Branson, created a suborbital space plane to promote space tourism. Their goal is to operate a fleet of spaceships with a passenger-carrying service. The spaceplane could also be used to carry scientific payloads for NASA and other organizations. 

Out of these three privately-owned companies, Space X is the most active in the commercial space program. Blue Origin has a goal to promote both commercial and private use. Virgin Galactic is mainly a people mover with occasional delivery of equipment and necessities to space stations. 

These three individuals would like to “Boldly go where no man has gone before.”


The progression of technology and science has led to the creation of many different rockets. The most powerful functioning rocket in the world is Falcon Heavy. However, with the development of bigger, better, and newer rockets, that could change. 

If space exploration has taught us anything, it is that with a bit of ingenuity, anything is possible.