Sunday, 17 May 2009

Spaceships, Robert A Goehlich

This is one of those books which does exactly what it says on the cover. It is, as its subtitle informs us, "A Reference Guide to the International Reusable Launch Vehicle Concepts from 1944 to Present".

Over 102 pages, Goehlich gives data on 300 sub-orbital and orbital Reusable Launch Vehicle concepts. Each entry contains a photo or sketch, and information on the vehicle concept's developer, type, number of stages, payload, launch mass, propulsion system, status (at time of publication), and a link to online information. They are also graded with up to five stars, "based on the estimated probability for technical, economic and political feasibility", as judged by the RLV concept project team at Keio University in Yokohama, Japan. All entries are organised by country.

Spaceships is now four years old and so already out of date. An online reference web site would have been more useful, and could easily be kept current. The data on each concept vehicle in the book is also a little sketchy, and a web site would have provided much more room for greater detail.

An interesting guide of limited usefulness.

Spaceships, Robert A Goehlich (2005, Apogee Books, ISBN 978-1-894959-50-6, 102 pp + index)

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