Published: Thursday, July 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Steering tabs, vanes maintain direction in flight
The V-2 rocket maintained its direction in flight with steering tabs on its fins and graphite steering vanes. These vanes were located in the rocket’s exhaust and had to be strong enough to handle hot gasses, 2,700 degrees Celsius, passing over them while the rocket thundered into the skies. The steering mechanisms where guided by an advanced gyroscopic system inside the body of the rocket. While many rockets today have gimbaling the rocket motors to steer, some of the first American rockets mimicked the V-2’s steering system. The famous Redstone rocket family, first flown in 1953, retained the V-2’s graphite vanes to help direct the rocket in flight.