Moonraker (rocket) - Great Pan Paperback cover (1)

The Moonraker rocket, as depicted on the cover of the Pan paperback edition of Moonraker (1959).

The Moonraker was a fictional rocket equipped with a nuclear warhead that was featured in the third James Bond novel, Moonraker. The Moonraker was being constructed by Sir Hugo Drax, allegedly for the British government. In reality Drax planned to launch the rocket into the heart of London.


Essentially, the Moonraker rocket is an upgraded German V-2 rocket using liquid hydrogen and fluorine as propellants. It can withstand the ultra-high combustion temperatures in its engine thanks to the use of columbite, which Drax has a monopoly. Therefore, because the rocket's engine can withstand higher heat, the Moonraker can use more powerful fuels, greatly expanding its effective range.

The rocket was constructed at Drax's Romney Marsh facility on the southern coast of England. The project was overseen by Russian scientist Dr. Walter and an all German crew of scientists. During the course of the novel James Bond investigated Drax's operation and he discovered Drax was in fact a Nazi planning to use the rocket to destroy London; equipping it with an atomic warhead. Drax captures Bond along with his secretary Gala Brand, in actuality an undercover policewoman, and places both of them underneath the rocket as it is preparing to launch in hopes that the rocket will incinerate both spies. Before the Moonraker is launched, Bond and Gala escape. Gala gives Bond the proper coordinates to reprogram the gyros and send the Moonraker into the sea. Drax and his henchman attempt to escape in a Russian submarine, but are killed because of their own deceptions, as the Moonraker has now been fired to the very location they are fleeing to.