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"...a few centuries of coherent humanist thought, set against a million odd years of evolved killer ape tendency. No-one's going to give you very good odds on humanism, are they?"
- Richard Morgan

Retro-Rockets  
  Small boosters to provide a thrust counter to the current velocity of the spacecraft, slowing it down or stopping its progress altogether.  

Jules Verne invented the concept of the retro-rocket, a kind of booster that would retard or stop the progress of a spacecraft.

This answer brought Barbicane back to his preparations, and he occupied himself with placing the contrivances intended to break their descent. We may remember the scene of the meeting held at Tampa Town, in Florida, when Captain Nicholl came forward as Barbicane's enemy and Michel Ardan's adversary. To Captain Nicholl's maintaining that the projectile would smash like glass, Michel replied that he would break their fall by means of rockets properly placed.

Thus, powerful fireworks, taking their starting-point from the base and bursting outside, could, by producing a recoil, check to a certain degree the projectile's speed. These rockets were to burn in space, it is true; but oxygen would not fail them, for they could supply themselves with it, like the lunar volcanoes, the burning of which has never yet been stopped by the want of atmosphere round the moon.

Barbicane had accordingly supplied himself with these fireworks, enclosed in little steel guns, which could be screwed on to the base of the projectile. Inside, these guns were flush with the bottom; outside, they protruded about eighteen inches. There were twenty of them. An opening left in the disc allowed them to light the match with which each was provided. All the effect was felt outside. The burning mixture had already been rammed into each gun. They had, then, nothing to do but raise the metallic buffers fixed in the base, and replace them by the guns, which fitted closely in their places.

From From the Earth to the Moon, by Jules Verne.
Published by Various in 1867
Additional resources -

However, the rockets that he envisioned were far too small to actually prevent the projectile from striking the moon at high speed. The devil is always in the details!

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  More Ideas and Technology from From the Earth to the Moon
  More Ideas and Technology by Jules Verne
  Tech news articles related to From the Earth to the Moon
  Tech news articles related to works by Jules Verne

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