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Rocketing Into the Future: The History and Technology of Rocket Planes [Paperback]

Michel van Pelt

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Book Description

June 7 2012 1461431999 978-1461431992 2012

This book describes the technology, history, and future of rocket planes. Michel van Pelt journies into this exciting world, examining the exotic concepts and actual flying vehicles that have been devised over the last hundred years. He recounts the history of rocket airplanes, from the early pioneers who attached simple rockets onto their wooden glider airplanes to the modern world of high-tech research vehicles. The author visits museums where rare examples of early rocket planes are kept and modern laboratories where future spaceplanes are being developed. He explains the technology in an easily understandable way, describing the various types of rocket airplanes and looking at the possibilities for the future.

Michel van Pelt considers future spaceplanes, presenting various modern concepts and developments. He describes the development from cutting edge research via demonstrator vehicles to operational use. He also evaluates the replacement of the Space Shuttle with a seemingly old-fashioned capsule system, the parallel developments in suborbital spaceplanes such as SpaceShipOne and SpaceShipTwo, piloted versus automatic flight, and related developments in airliners and military aircraft.


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From the reviews:

“Whatever level of interest you have in rocket-powered human aviation (and hence spaceflight), this book covers it. For someone getting into the subject for the first time there is more than enough detail … . the book gives the basics of aeronautics and rocketry, which are well-explained with some helpful line diagrams. … British Interplanetary Society members are no doubt familiar with Skylon; if you are not you will be once you have read this book!” (Malcolm Smith, Astronomy Now, July, 2013)

“This book covers the history of rocket planes from earliest endeavors to the present designs of suborbital rocket planes marketed for space tourism purposes. … The book is well written, well organized, and well illustrated. A useful resource for people interested in both aviation history and the history of space technology. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels.” (A. M. Strauss, Choice, Vol. 50 (4), December, 2012)

From the Back Cover

Rocketing into the Future journeys into the exciting world of rocket planes, examining the exotic concepts and actual flying vehicles that have been devised over the last one hundred years. Lavishly illustrated with over 150 photographs, it recounts the history of rocket planes from the early pioneers who attached simple rockets on to their wooden glider airplanes to the modern world of high-tech research vehicles.

The book then looks at the possibilities for the future. The technological and economic challenges of the Space Shuttle proved insurmountable, and thus the program was unable to fulfill its promise of low-cost access to space. However, the burgeoning market of suborbital space tourism may yet give the necessary boost to the development of a truly reusable spaceplane.


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Springer-Praxis Title July 12 2012
By Terry Sunday - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For many years, Springer-Praxis spaceflight books have set the quality bar for the genre very high. All the volumes in the series are superb, and I think most knowledgeable space enthusiasts would agree that they all deserve the highest possible rating.

Michel van Pelt's "Rocketing Into the Future: The History and Technology of Rocket Planes" is no exception. Even better, the volume fills a near-void in the field. Relatively few popular books about rocket planes are readily available, and even fewer of them survey the entire range of the technology from its beginnings in the 1920s to the latest tests of Virgin Galactic's "Spaceship Two" and beyond. You can find a reasonable selection of books about specific rocket aircraft, such as the Messerschmitt Me.163B, the Bell X-1 or the North American X-15. But Mr. van Pelt tells the whole story of rocket plane development around the world, including many obscure designs that only the most ardent enthusiast would ever have heard of (I thought I was such an enthusiast, but some were new to me). Most of the rocket planes he covers are in-the-atmosphere aircraft rather than spacecraft, although a few, such as Boeing's stillborn X-20 "Dyna-Soar," would have operated in Earth orbit had it been built.

The narrative is lively, fast-moving, very well-organized and chock-full of fascinating details sure to keep the technophile reading into the wee hours. More than 160 black-and-white and color photos and drawings, typically half a page or so in size, supplement the authoritative text. Many of them are previously unpublished, as far as I know. A very useful 12-page bibliography lists books, articles, websites and videos that the reader can consult for more information.

Mr. van Pelt's writing style is very straightforward and accessible (as much as it can be for such a technical subject), and his accuracy is remarkable. Technical errors in aviation and spaceflight books drive me crazy, but I finished "Rocketing Into the Future" as sane as I was when I started, having found no technical or historical errors--that's zero, zilch, nada--at least in the parts I already knew something about. All in all, this Springer-Praxis volume is an outstanding and important contribution to aviation and spaceflight history, and a great read to boot. I recommend it most highly.

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