Rocket Science Institute

Rocket Propulsion History & Heritage

Your first resource for unusual, hard-to-find, out-of-print, and historic information
about rockets, missiles, propulsion, space, pyrotechnics, and explosives safety

Rocket science made (more) simple.


Updated & New Books Listed: 17 February 2013

First Steps Toward Space, Frederick C. Durant III and George S. James, eds.  Smithsonian Annals of Flight Number 10.  Memoirs and early rocket pioneering documents from the National Air and Space Museum.  The best book ever for detailed technical and engineering data of those early amateur rockets, and the best single resource we've ever seen about early experimental rocketry around the world.  Heavy with in-depth technical information, detailed specifications, and accurate data about dozens of solid and liquid propellant rocket designs from USA, Germany, France, Italy, and Russia.  Includes most of the detailed history of technical developments between 1900-1939.  A rare collection, a combination of memoirs and technical papers that describes the work of leading investigators of early astronautics.  Includes original source references from the National Air and Space Museum’s documentary files and library.  316 pages, ISBN 1-878628-28-3.   $34.95.  

NASA Project Apollo 7 News Press Kit.  National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  A historic relic of Man's conquest of space!  This is the "News Press Kit" created by NASA for the first manned flight in the lunar landing program.  The rare document provides every imaginable detail about the mission, the men who flew it, the rockets that carried them aloft, the spaceship they controlled, and the experiments they conducted.  Dense with technical information, data, and details of this important Apollo mission to the Moon.  Rich with engineering drawings, maps, charts, tables, and graphs of the science and technology involved--right down to detailed menus of the food the astronauts ate!  81 pages, $19.95. 

NASA Project Apollo 11 News Press Kit.   National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  Another historic relic!  The "News Press Kit" created by NASA for the first manned flight to land on the Moon!  The rare document provides every imaginable detail about the mission, the men who flew it, the rockets that carried them aloft, the spaceship they controlled, and the experiments they conducted.  Dense with technical information, data, and details of this all-important Apollo 11 mission to the Moon.  And it's rich with engineering drawings, maps, charts, tables, and graphs of the science and technology involved!  This is some of the best documentation we've seen for this incredible project.  It's a valuable and indispensable book for rocket, missile, and space historians and enthusiasts.  256 pages, quality-bound.  $29.95.  

NASA Project Apollo 13 News Press Kit.  National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  This is the "News Press Kit" created by NASA for the Apollo 13 Lunar Mission, the first in the Apollo program requiring an emergency abort.  The excellent performance of the lunar module system in a back-up capacity and the training of both the flight crew and ground support personnel resulted in the safe and efficient return of the crew.  The rare document provides every imaginable detail about the mission, the men who flew it, the rockets that carried them aloft, the spaceship they controlled, and the experiments they planned to conduct.  Extremely details illustrations show exactly how the launch escape system, SLA panel, and other components function.  There are also details about the electrical power system, emergency detection system, earth landing system, caution and warning system, controls and displays, construction materials and alloys, and crew survival kits.  140 pages, $24.95. 

NASA Project Apollo 17 News Press Kit.  National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  This is the "News Press Kit" created by NASA for the final flight in the Apollo lunar landing program.  The rare document provides every imaginable detail about the mission, the men who flew it, the rockets that carried them aloft, the spaceship they controlled, and the experiments they conducted.  For model builders and amateur rocketeers, there are abundant dimensioned drawings (and cutaways) of the space vehicle, and every phase of its operation are described.  Each of the Saturn V stages is depicted, with lengthy information about their components, functions, dimensions, and operation--and the test programs they underwent before the launch (including land impact tests, vibro-acoustic, and flammability testing).  There are also dimensional and system comparisons between the Apollo, Gemini, and Mercury systems.  176 pages, $24.95.   

Apollo 13 "Houston, we've got a problem."  Jerry Woodfill, NASA Johnson Space Center.  A 33-page illustrated chronicle of exactly what really happened aboard the Apollo 13 mission spacecraft.  Includes verbatim the key dialogue between astronauts Lovell, Haise, and Swigert, and between the crippled ship and Mission Control in Houston.  Written by a key engineer who participated in the rescue mission.  The author was monitoring Apollo 13's warning system when the vehicle exploded. His system was the first alert of the life-threatening malfunction depicted in the Tom Hanks-Ron Howard movie Apollo 13.  For his participation in the rescue of Apollo 13, he shared the Presidential Medal of Freedom as a member of the Apollo 13 Mission Operations Team.  This is the official NASA historic chronicle of this unusual flight to the Moon and back.  Includes 35 photos.   $17.95    

Project MERCURY: A Chronology.  James M. Grimwood, Historical Branch, NASA Manned Spacecraft Center.  The official, complete and comprehensive NASA history of America's first manned space program.  222 pages, $24.95.  

The History of Solid-Propellant Rocketry.  J.D. Hutley, NASA Dryden Flight Research Center Historian.  A comprehensive and in-depth 1999 report covering the development of castable double-base and composite propellants, from World War II research through modern formulations used in a spectrum of rockets, missiles, and spacecraft worldwide.  Details the many separate lines of research that led to the development of large solid propellant motors and boosters.  The best book we've seen on this subject.  10 pages, $19.95.  

Solid Rocket History at Hercules Powder Company.  J. Thatcher and R. Wetherell, Hercules Aerospace Company.  A complete and detailed history of one of the world's leading rocket propulsion companies.  The book describes the events and people that created this dynamic company, and carried it forward with advanced solid propellants and giant rocket boosters.  A fascinating and educational work, full of esoteric lore of interest to every experimental rocket scientists, engineer, and technician.  There's abundant technical information about motor cases, nozzles, thrust vector control, insulation, case bonding, igniters, and thrust termination.  Static test firing operations--and data analysis--are also discussed, together with process inspection procedures.  44 pages, $19.95.  

JATO Engine Propulsion: Report from Aerojet--The Power of the Future.  Aerojet Engineering Corporation.  A rare and extremely informative, 42-page book entirely devoted to JATO ("jet-assisted take-off") rocket engines.  Originally published in 1947 by the inventors of rocket propulsion for launching airplanes, it covers both the history of rocket powered takeoff engines, their technology, and their (probable) future applications.  Describes in great detail the early history of what would become "the world's largest research, development, and production company."  Beginning with the small five-man team that evolved into the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory at California Institute of Technology (GALCIT), the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and Aerojet-General Corporation, this valuable document relates one of the most fascinating stories you'll ever read about rocket science, engineering, and technology.  42 pages, $24.95. 

Welcome to Aerojet.  Aerojet-General Corp.  A rare and historic cold-war relic, 1957.  During the peak of the cold-war era, this book was printed and distributed to each and every new employee on the day they were hired, providing key information and "rules of the game."  Includes company history, corporate organization, technical advisory board, industrial relations division, benefits and services, service pin awards, wage and salary information, pay procedures, overtime and shift premiums, policies and procedures, promotions and grievances, employment of relatives, professional ethics, ID cards and badges, restricted areas, safety and security, and much, much more. Book reviewed here.  48 pages, ISBN 1-878628-12-7.  $12.95. 

From Polymers to Propellants to Rockets: A History of Thiokol.  E. S. Sutton, Thiokol Propulsion.  A complete and detailed, illustrated history of one of the world's leading rocket propulsion companies, supported with fine photographs and detailed tables.  Exact propellant formulations are given--this once secret information alone is worth the price of the book.  43 pages, $19.95. 

U.S. Government Records Concerning the 1947 Crash Near Roswell, New Mexico.  United States General Accounting Office, National Security and International Affairs Division.  Report to the Honorable Steven H. Schiff, House of Representatives.  This official report--by the Director of National Security Analysis--is considered the most complete ever made by the U.S. Government on this case.  It examines a wide range of classified documents dating from July 1947 through the 1950s.  These records came from numerous organizations in New Mexico and elsewhere throughout the Department of Defense, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the National Security Council.  Includes copies of important letters from the National Security Council, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Department of Energy, the CIA, the Department of Defense, and the FBI.  20 pages, $19.95. 

American X-Vehicles: X-1 to X-50 Centennial of Flight Edition.  Dennis R. Jenkins, Tony Landis, and Jay Miller; NASA History Office.  Arranged as an "inventory," the text devotes at least a full page to each aircraft, one by one, beginning with the X-1.  Provides a nice photo of the plane, and detailed data about each of the 50 models.  The book is full of historic information, fascinating stories, and descriptions of many very unusual flying machines.  Of special interest to test pilots, aeromodellers, aviation buffs, and aerospace historians.  65 pages, large and easy-to-read 11" x 8-1/2" size.  $24.95   

Toward Mach 2: The Douglas D-558 Skyrocket Program.  NASA History Series, J.D. Hunley (Editor), 1999.  An important chronicle in the history of aviation, with significant new information that will be of particular interest to scholars and others interested in these early rocket planes.  Features extensive dialogue and talks by D-558 Skystreak and Skyrocket test pilots Stanley P. Butchart, Robert A. Champine, A. Scott Crossfield, and John Griffith.  Includes many historic photos of D-558 pilots and aircraft, first-hand narratives of flying the X-1 and the Skyrockets, with dozens of fascinating anecdotes never before published.  The pilots themselves describe how it feels in the seat, behind the stick, when crises occur at Mach 1 and above.  The book shows and explains the seven different wing configurations tested, and gives detailed tables of drops.  There's also information about where each surviving aircraft is displayed.  172 pages, large and easy-to-read 11" x 8-1/2" size.  $24.95  

The Eclipse Project, by Tom Tucker, NASA History Division.  A unique and interesting experiment and an important flight research effort by NASA.  Recommended to anyone interested in the history of aviation and space technology.  This project tested and gathered data about a potential newer and less expensive way to launch satellites into space by first towing a space launch vehicle to altitude behind a transport airplane down a conventional airport runway.   Aerotow project—using a monster rope--began on 6 May 1997, when a  QF-106  was towed in tether tests.   The USAF supplied Air Force Flight Test Center (AFFTC) at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) supplied and flew the transport, a C-141A.  This big book contains the original patent, flight logs, pilot’s flight test reports, field notes, letters, mementos, bibliography, and more.  It is a veritable treasure-trove of hard-to-find historical documents.  177 pages, 11 x 8-1/2" size, $24.95.  

Hypersonics Before the Shuttle:  A Concise History of the X-15 Research Airplane.  NASA History Series, Dennis R. Jenkins, 2000.  The first "serious" history of the X-15 design, development, operations, and lessons learned.  Well-illustrated with many rare and historic photos (51 illustrations in all) collected from various aerospace museums, with several classic NASA 3-view drawings complete with technical specifications and performance data.  Includes details about the precursors to the X-15 program (in particular the X-1), and chronicles each step of the hypersonic development program.  Tells about alloy research, wind-tunnel experiments, contract arrangements, B-36 carrier aircraft, propellant tanks, fuselage skin, ejection seat release system, cockpit layout, and much more.  Of special interest to "amateur" rocket experimenters is the coverage of various rocket engines: the Aerojet XLR73, Bell XLR81, North American NA-5400, Reaction Motors XLR10 (and variants), and others.  128 pages, 11" x 8.5" size.  $24.95   

The Early Years: Mercury to Apollo-Soyus.  National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  The official, comprehensive illustrated history of the early years of America's space program.  The book covers U.S. manned space flight efforts from the first Mercury launch at Cape Canaveral in 1961, through the $250 million Apollo-Soyuz mission of 1975.  The document provides all the essential details about the astronauts, their missions, the spacecraft, and the launch vehicles, including dates and times for most of the "space firsts" of this important era in our history.  Illustrated.  15 pages, $9.95. 

Walking to Olympus: An EVA Chronology.  David S. F. Portree, Robert C. Treviño.  The official, comprehensive illustrated history of all extravehicular activities (EVA) of U.S. astronauts and Russian cosmonauts, from the first "space walk" by Edward White II, during the flight of Gemini 4, in June, 1964.  Describes in great detail each of the 154 EVAs that have been undertaken throough April 1997, telling what work was done, what the astronauts experienced, mission difficulties and successes.  Much of the text are quotes from the astronauts themselves.  Tells about the spacecraft, the spacesuits and airlocks, and life support systems.  The book provides detailed dimensions of the equipment as well, giving details about the airlock devices, the maneuvering units, communications systems, and so forth.  You'll learn about the Gemini, Apollo, Soyuz, Mir, Space Shuttle, and other spacecraft, too.  146 pages, $24.95. 

United States Space Program Firsts.  A complete, comprehensive, and detailed summary of United States achievements in space, from the first Bumper V-2 missile launched at Cape Canaveral on 24 July 1950 through the first U.S. military payload to be launched by a Russian-made rocket engine on 17 December 2003.  17 pages, $9.95.   

Astronaut Fact Book.  National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). A complete, comprehensive, and detailed summary of United States and international astronauts and cosmonauts, with biographical sketches, including former and deceased astronauts.  Includes information about the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, educational institutions from which U.S. astronauts earned degrees, U.S. service academies from which U.S. astronauts earned degrees, U.S. astronauts' birthplaces by state, astronauts born in other countries, scouting records, current U.S. astronauts in active military service, and the U.S. Space Program human space flight log.  100 pages, $19.95.  

Wardrobe for Space: Space Suit Evolution -- From Custom Tailored to Off-The-Rack.  A complete, comprehensive, and detailed textbook about space suits.  Abundant and accurate information and illustrations showing spacesuits and their component parts--plus shots of their construction, and astronauts in action.  It also has a definitive history of space suit development.  28 pages, $9.95.  

Celebrating a Century of Flight.   NASA, U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission.  A complete, comprehensive, and detailed illustrated summary of international achievements in flight and in space, from the first legends of Daedalus and Icarus through the International Space Station.  Begins with the prehistory of flight--with information dating back to 3500 B.C., and continues with stories of balloon flights, the first parachute jump, the "invention" of wings, and the earliest flying machines of Sir George Cayley, Otto Lilienthal, and Octave Chanute.  Covers the work of Samuel P. Langley, who flew the first powered aerodrome models, a detailed history of Orville and Wilbur Wright, the fragile airplanes of World War I, the "Flying Aces," the evolution of airmail, the story of NACA (the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, precursor to NASA), and much, much more.  31 pages, $11.95. 

FZG 76 Geräte-Handbuch / FZG 76 (V-1 Cruise Missile) Device Handbook.   World War II German V-1 technical manual for care, assembly, service, and testing.  an authentic reprint of the original operating manuals and parts list for the cruise missile, designated in these documents under the cover code-name “FZG 76.”  Actually this is a copy of a copy of the original and complete April 1944 edition, including all seven volumes and the spare parts list.  234 pages, $19.95.  

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Other books categories:

General Rocket Science & Engineering

Solid Propellant Engineering

Solid Propulsion Rocket Systems Design

Liquid Propellant Engineering

Liquid Propulsion Rocket Systems Design

Pyrotechnics & Explosives Safety

Other Books of Interest

Your first resource for unusual, hard-to-find, out-of-print, and historic Goddard, NASA, JPL, GALCIT, USAF, NACA, military, industrial, educational, and "how-to" books, documents, and patents about aerospace, astronauts, and astronautics; the space shuttle, satellites, spacecraft; rocketry propulsion systems; liquid fuel and solid propellant engines; reaction motors; and missile testing. Plus unique reference books on chemistry, engineering, and safety with rocket fuels, oxidizers, and propellants; igniters, pyrotechnics, pyro devices, fireworks, and explosives; rocket and pulsejet-propelled model airplanes with Dyna-Jet and Jetex.