Sprite rocket engine, c 1949.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Made by De Havilland. The Sprite rocket engine was developed as an asisted take-off unit for the Comet airliner. Early jet engines, such as those used by the Comet, were relatively inefficient when taking off from high altitude airports and benefited from rocket asistance. The Sprite's thrust was generated by the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide with a chemical catalyst.