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It's Only Rocket Science: An Introduction in Plain English

Popular Science

Series: Astronomers' Universe

By: Lucy Rogers

350 pages, illus


Paperback | Feb 2008 | #172344 | ISBN-13: 9780387753775
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1 week Details
NHBS Price: £22.99 $31/€26 approx

About this book

'Space tourism' is becoming a reality. Ordinary people around the world are starting to wonder if they could really go to space and what it would be like - among them, many amateur astronomers. This book explains the basics of what is involved in getting into space, from building the rocket and choosing where to go, to planning the mission and getting home again. It details the extraordinary conditions astronauts cope with when they are in space, and how they communicate with Earth. It explains how amateur astronomers can observe satellites and calculate their orbital parameters. It even has answers to questions such as, How does a spacecraft know exactly where it is? and, What are the toilet facilities like?

The book is an introduction to space vehicles and space travel: the vehicles themselves, their propulsion systems, environmental systems, navigation, and steering. It looks at possible future missions, and explores the far future of space flight - what is possible and what is not. Most amateur astronomers - and many of those with similar interests but who are not currently practising observers - have only a sketchy understanding of space flight. This book provides an introduction to the mechanics of space flight.It is pitched at a suitable level of understanding for amateur astronomers, but is almost entirely descriptive and non-mathematical. It covers all aspects of space flight, from how to leave the Earth - including the design of the rocket, mission planning, navigation and communication, to life in space and the effects of weightlessness. It also includes sections describing how an amateur can track satellites and understand their orbital parameters, and on the future of space flight, touching on what is and what is not possible given the present and predicted propulsion technologies.

From the reviews: "This is a book I've really mixed feelings about -- it does what it sets out to do very well. And it does what it says on the tin. It's a plain English introduction to rocket science. ! I would highly recommend it if you want to absorb all the basic facts about rocketry and space travel." (Brian Clegg, PopularScience, June, 2008) "Lucy Rogers' book It's Only Rocket Science: An Introduction in Plain English tries to demystify what is a notoriously complicated subject. ! I have a feeling that students and young aerospace professionals will find this book useful. When they don't quite understand what their lecturers are trying to tell them, Rogers will be there to help them out." (Piers Bizony, BBC Sky at Night, September, 2008) "The term 'rocket science' implies that one needs a very sophisticated level of technological and scientific knowledge to understand the principles of this field. However, Rogers (Isle of Wight, UK) attempts to explain these seemingly complex phenomena in relatively simple terms, i.e., without reference to mathematics. ! Rogers does a good job in explaining ! topics in accessible language. The chapters include line drawings and half-tone and color photographs; technical appendixes and a glossary augment the text. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers." (J. Z. Kiss, CHOICE, Vol. 46 (01), September, 2008)


Rocket and spacecraft design: propellants, launch vehicles and spacecraft.- Mission planning and backup including choosing the launch site and supplies.- Navigation in three dimensions.- Communication.- Life in space (how humans cope).- Observing satellites: From naked eye observations to professional observatories.- Where to go (exploring the planets, the Moon, and further out).- What the future holds (different types of propulsion systems).- Glossary.- Index.

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Dr Lucy Rogers is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and a member of the British Association of Science Writers. She is an engineer, and is currently working on the Launch Escape System propulsion unit for StarChaser, the UK's commercial space access company. She has published articles in The Guardian national newspaper, and on BBC Online.

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