How a gyroscope guides a rocket

A4-V2 Missile guidance technology

LEV-3 Horizont and Vertikant gyroscope system 1940
LEV-3 V2 missile gyroscope system with mounting plate. The third component of this system, the Muller gyroscopic accelerometer, is missing – the two slightly raised mounting points can be seen on the right-hand side of the mounting plate.

How a gyroscope guides a rocket: Have you ever wondered how this fundamentally simple device, that you may have played with as a child, can be used as the key technology to stabilise and help accurately guide a rocket powered missile or a spaceship?

In our video, How a Gyroscope Guides a Rocket, recorded in 2011, we examine the peculiar properties of a toy gyroscope and show how they were harnessed to stabilise and guide missiles as diverse as the WWII German A4-V2 missile, the USA’s giant Saturn V that took Man to the Moon as well as the Space Shuttle. We start with a review of the fun and impressive phenomena that made the gyroscope a popular toy for over 100 years. We go on to show, with an easy to understand explanation, how the gyroscope can allow us to measure and correct the orientation changes of a missile in flight by exploiting the very same phenomena demonstrated by the toy.  This video is a general interest and educational presentation and does not concentrate on the specific details of any particular missile guidance system. We will be uploading a detailed video covering the application of gyroscopes in the V2 missile guidance system in due course – so stay tuned.

So if you’ve ever wondered how the phenomena exhibited by child’s toy can be used to stabilise a spaceship or an ICBM – ‘How a gyroscope guides a rocket‘ will show you the key principles of how it’s done and we promise, you won’t need your calculator to understand this vital bit of Rocket Science.

About V2 Rocket History 10 Articles
At V2 Rocket History our aim is to investigate the history and technology of the A4-V2 missile, and share the results in the most accessible and engaging way possible. Our general approach is to highlight the engineering and industrial aspects of the subject.