The V-2 is a familiar rocket. It's the rocket the German Army developed during the Second World War that was launched against Allied cities including London, Paris, and Antwerp by the Nazis. But the rocket technology acquired from Hitler's war machine spawned the basis for the more peaceful space launch capabilities we take for granted today.
The V-2 wasn't a stand-alone design, however. It was part of a larger family of rockets, some early test beds and other more sinister variations that happily never came to fruition during the war.
ANALYSIS: Project Hermes: America's V-2 Rocket Program
The V-2 - which stands for Vergeltungswaffe Zwei or Vengeance Weapon 2 - was so named by the Nazi propaganda ministry. To its designers it was known as the A-4, the fourth in the Aggregate series of rockets.
The Aggregate series was dreamed up by Wernher von Braun and the team of rocket engineers he worked with before and during the Second World War. Working at a small site called Kummersdorf West outside of Berlin in 1933, the team developed the first Aggregate rocket called the A-1. It was the first liquid-fueled rocket with some major changes from early test beds. Namely, this rocket had the engine mounted in the rear rather than forward in the nose. Still, it was a small test rocket one foot in diameter and 4.6 feet long.