Rocket technology engulfed me for two decades since my visit to Srirangapatna in 1960. The question continued to haunt me - "How Tipu Sultan would have led to the world's first war rocket?" "What environment was responsible for the birth, of such a technological innovation in our country".
In August 1974 I received a paper presented by Frank H.Winter of National Air and Space Museum Washington USA, titled "The Rocket in India from ancient times to the 19th century". This highly researched paper presented the 'Agni Astra' from Vedik hymns to Tipu's war rocket with eighteen classic references. Winter's conclusion is startling for the Indian Scientific Community. He says, "Thus, it is fair to suggest that the venerable rocket from the subcontinent of India may well have had its technological impact upon the West. If so, in retrospect, it was an important, if subtle, a technological transfer of recent history."
Many such researchers have to spring up in our Universities as well. Soon, I learnt that two of the war rockets captured by British at Srirangapatana have been displayed in the Museum of Artillery at Woolwich in London. One of my missions during my visit to Europe in 1980 was to study this rocket. Dr.VR.Gowarkar and I visited the museum. It was a great thrill especially for Rocket technologists like us, to see an Indian innovation in a foreign soil well preserved and with facts not distorted.
Under the heading "India's War Rocket", the following details are recorded in the Woolwhich museum London. The motor casing of this rocket is made of steel with multi nozzle holes with the sword blade as the warhead. The propellant used was packed gunpowder. Weight of the rocket is about 2kg. With about 1kg of propellant. 50mm in dia about 250mm length, the range performance is reported 900mts to 1.5 km. Our designers analyzed and confirmed their performance. What a simple and elegant design effectively used in war!
The text above is an sourced from the homage paid to Tipu Sultan by, Dr. Abdul Kalam during the Hazrath Tipu Sultan Shaheed Memorial Lecture organised by the Al-Ameen Educational Society Bangalore on 30th Nov 1991.