The World’s Rockets to Scale

Inspired by a book and poster from 1995, titled “Rockets of the World,” graphic artist Tyler Skrabek has provided a new and updated “clean” look for his latest work.

“The ‘Rockets of the World’ poster emulates a 1960 style of drawing,” he said, “employing a consistent pallet across all rockets allowing for a distraction-free look at the size and power of the world’s greatest machines.”

Skrabek told Universe Today that he’s been working on this poster for 3 months, but he’s had the idea of creating it since 2012.

It is available in various sizes on etsy here.

“The ‘Rockets of the World’ poster is something I put a lot of work into,” he said, “as it’s been my sole project for the last 3 months. Three years ago I was just interested in rockets and wanted to see how the most popular rockets stacked up against each other. But when I looked online to see if I could find a chart, all that existed were height comparisons using technical drawings with 3D renderings of newer rockets squished in. There just weren’t any posters that I could find that used consistent 3D full color renderings and that’s what I set out to create.”

He wanted an uncluttered look for his poster, and therefore used a set of rules to eliminate some rockets: The Rocket had to have more than 3 successful flights and each rocket had to be unique – no later versions from the same rocket family, such as the Soyuz.

Also, rocket wannabes didn’t make the cut … not yet anyway.

“Just to keep things tidy I choose not to include rockets that haven’t flown yet on the off-chance they don’t actually make it off the ground,” Tyler said on reddit. “But rest assured there will be a version that includes the Falcon 9 Heavy as soon as it does.”

A few months ago he created the “Rockets of Human Spaceflight” poster and posted it on reddit. He took suggestions from fellow redditors to create the final version, below. He used that poster as the impetus to continue the Rockets of the World poster.

Rockets of Human Spaceflight. Credit and copyright: Tyler Skrabek.
Rockets of Human Spaceflight. Credit and copyright: Tyler Skrabek.

You can see the original “Rockets of the World” illustration from physics professor Peter Alway’s 1995 book “Rockets of the World” here.

Tyler said he’s always been passionate about space, spaceflight and human exploration in space.

“I find it fascinating that we as a society have the power to take a person, put that person inside a metal box on top of a cylinder filled with explosives and explore space,” he says on his website. “As an active member in space circles, I realized there was a lack of infographics that did a reasonable job of portraying comparisons between the various types of spacecraft while being visually appealing. I decided to research and develop a series of infographics to better explain this to the everyday person.”

You can see more of his work on his website here, including his great space infographics here.

On reddit he said, “I hope you like these posters and can help me come up with even more exciting projects!”

16 Replies to “The World’s Rockets to Scale”

  1. Wiki page for the Energia rocket shows one success, one failure. I haven’t looked much further into it, anyone know what the discrepancy is about?

    1. Both launches were successful. On the first one, the payload (Polyus, an SDI-satellite killing space laser) failed, but that should not be accredited to the launch system.

  2. WOW! Am reminded just how big the full up Saturn V was @ 363 feet. What a monster! The TBD SLS will be 321 feet, making the Saturn V stack something like 42 feet taller!

    Great job Tyler!

  3. I would like to add, that the Saturn V designed by NASA’s mechanical and aerospace engineer (a suitable role-model), Werner Von Braun was the most powerful rocket in the world until Falcon Heavy which is said to deliver 20 MN of thrust. So in conclusion this rocket chart posted is not updated and should have SpaceX Falcon Heavy as the last rocket w/ the most thrust.

    1. Falcon Heavy has flown 0 times, not 3 as required for inclusion. In addition the Falcon Heavy has less than half the thrust of the Saturn V. It will be able to launch the most payload than any other EXISTING rocket. Less than half that of the 1960s Saturn V.

      1. Technically and historically, one of each Saturn V’s F-1 rocket engine delivered roughly 7 MN thrust while the Falcon 9 core’s Merlin 1D engine, after being tested and flown, is estimated to deliver a total thrust of approx. 6MN of thrust. It is also true that all of the nine Merlin 1D engines in the Falcon 9v1.1 core is equivalent to one of the five F-1 engine in Saturn V. However, the Saturn V will not be the most powerful spacecraft for long, as SpaceX will have plans of building a spacecraft w/ close to 10x more thrust power than the Saturn V ever did, this Spacecraft refered to is the Mars Colony Transporter that’ll deliver 120 MN thrust. In conclusion, after the Falcon Heavy and Mars Colony Transporter has been flown and tested they should be listed in a preceding order of this manner on an updated rocket poster; the Falcon Heavy; two Falcon 9 cores and one Falcon 9 v1.1, should replace the Falcon 9.1 and the MCT succeeds the Saturn V, the MCT will become the most powerful spacecraft in the world

      2. From your own reference…
        Falcon Heavy 3.8 million LBS thrust 1st stage 27 Merlin 1-Ds
        Saturn V was 7.5 million LBS thrust 1st stage 5 F-1s
        OK, just barely over HALF the Saturn V thrust

        The Merlin 1-D does not have 6MN thrust
        Your article cites Merlin 1-D @ 147,000LBS = 0.654 MN

      3. SpaceX hasn’t announced any rocket yet. SpaceX will most likely build a heavy lift rocket that will optimize cost, with thrust and reusability. If a 110 ton rocket cost $250 million to build, is easier to land and can be made more easily, they will build that rocket. If a 180 ton rocket cost $750 million, is difficult to reuse and requires an extra 18 months to build they are NOT going to make that rocket.

        Government want to build the biggest rockets to brag about how big their rocket it. Private companies want to make a rocket that will meet market demand.

        Besides a reusable 80-120 ton rocket most likely has a larger market then a monster 180-220 ton rocket.

      4. Well the SLS (aka the Senate Launch System) is there and the Falcon Heavy is much much closer to being a real rocket then the rocket congress speced out. If the chart is going to include the SLS then including the Falcon Heavy would of not been out of line.

      5. @philw1776 ‘Falcon Heavy has flown 0 times, not 3 as required for inclusion. In addition the Falcon Heavy has less than half the thrust of the Saturn V. It will be able to launch the most payload than any other EXISTING rocket. Less than half that of the 1960s Saturn V.’
        3 for inclusion and 0 times for Falcon Heavy indeed it is, but not for long it will be. Hmm wise words you’ve spoken *nods sagely*

  4. Can anyone tell me (besides the difference in diameter) why the Space X rocket is almost as large as the Saturn rocket yet weighs so much less? Is the weight of it payload also much less?

    1. Less to do with payload weight than diameter. SV is over 3x the diameter and since volume goes as radius squared times height it’s > 9x the volume & weight of fuel. SV height is also greater. These are simple, gross approximations to illustrate the point.

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