rocket-assisted takeoff

rocket-assisted takeoff

[′räk·ət ə¦sis·təd ′tāk‚ȯf]
(aerospace engineering)

rocket-assisted takeoff (RATO)

A method of assisted takeoff for use with heavy-loaded aircraft and/or taking off from a high-altitude airfield. Auxiliary booster rockets, attached to the airframe, are ignited at the critical time during takeoff to provide the requisite additional thrust. These are jettisoned over a safe area after their use. Also referred to as a jet-assisted takeoff, or JATO.
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Rocket-assisted takeoff became a staple of American air power in the late 1940s and 1950s.