A rocket-powered aircraft or rocket plane is an aircraft that uses a rocket for propulsion, sometimes in addition to airbreathing jet engines. Rocket planes can achieve much higher speeds than similarly sized jet aircraft, but typically for at most a few minutes of powered operation, followed by a glide. Unhindered by the need for oxygen from the atmosphere they are suitable for very high altitude flight. They are also capable of delivering much higher acceleration and shorter takeoffs.
Rockets have been used simply to assist the main propulsion in the form of Jet Assisted Take Off (JATO) also known as "Rocket Assisted Take Off" (RATO). Not all rocket planes are of the conventional takeoff like "normal" aircraft. Some types have been air-launched from another plane, while other types have taken off vertically - nose in the air and tail to the ground ("tail-sitters"). It is also possible, that rocket planes launch vertically without changing their orientation.
Because of the heavy propellant use and the various practical difficulties of operating rockets, the majority of rocket planes have been built for experimental use, as interceptor fighters and space aircraft.
Other articles related to "aircraft":
... Rocket-powered aircraft have been experimented with, and during the Second World War the Messerschmitt Komet fighter was developed and used operationally ... to give more power for a heavily loaded aircraft or reduce the takeoff run ...