The subtitle of this Rocket Workshop Manual (1942 onwards) provides a hint that this is more of a history book than a catalogue of available launch vehicles. In fact, those with any knowledge of that industry will find the coverage of Chinese Long March rockets poor and Indian PSLV and GSLV missing. More surprisingly, given the heavy emphasis towards American rocketry, is the omission of the SpaceX Falcon series, particularly the Falcon 9, which has been established as a commercial launch vehicle since December 2013.
The two main sections of the book cover ‘Principles’ and ‘Rockets and Vehicles’. The first includes some basic physics and chemistry and describes the different types of propellant used in liquid rocket engines and solid rocket motors. Unfortunately, the author does not recognise the industry convention that refers to liquid propellant devices as engines and solid propellant devices as motors, which results is oxymorons such as “liquid propellant motors”.
The much larger second section begins with a review of the wartime V-2 rockets and traces the related developments of early American rockets, such as the Redstone and Jupiter, to the Thor, Atlas, Titan and Delta vehicles. A couple of Russian vehicles, the Soyuz and the Proton, are thrown in for good measure and there is a nine-page section on the European Ariane. The volume concludes with a short list of abbreviations and an index of rocket names.
As with all the Haynes space manuals, it is well illustrated with colour photos and black-and-white line drawings, so visually it’s a good package. Those looking for an introduction to the history of rocket technology will find plenty of interest in this book, but those with even a little more knowledge will find it lacking in depth and coverage.
Mark Williamson, Space Technology Consultant