2019 year Reviews

Rocket Propulsion

Stephen D Heister et al

Cambridge University Press,
2019 574pp, hardback


ISBN 978-1-108-42227-7

How many times have you heard the phrase “it’s not rocket science” and perhaps groaned at the thought that it is not scientists who develop rockets but engineers? Well, this is definitely a book for the rocket engineers out there! Developed by its authors for propulsion students, it is dense with graphs and equations and includes almost 300 ‘homework problems’ for students to tackle.

The text covers aspects of history and classification, mission requirements and trajectory analysis, and pretty much everything from thermochemistry to electric propulsion. Each chapter has a further reading list and there is an appendix on numerical methods and fluid properties for those with a need for “more detailed information”. Serious researchers will find the index useful, although for such a large book it seems rather brief with its predominantly single-page references.

The book is also somewhat old-fashioned in its design, featuring only black-and-white line drawings and the occasional monochrome photograph, but I recognise that I am not part of the target audience. It could well be that, as the cover blurb suggests, “for senior and first-year graduate students looking to gain a thorough understanding of the topic along with practical tools that can be applied in industry”, this volume is “a must-have”.

Mark Williamson, Space Technology Consultant, Cumbria, UK

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