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The Rocket Company Kindle Edition

31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Patrick J. G. Stiennon is an experienced aerospace engineer and patent attorney at Stiennon & Stiennon, Madison, Wisconsin. He is a Senior Member of AIAA David M. Hoerr is an aerospace consultant and a lecturer in Engineering Mechanics and Astronautics at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. He is a Senior Member of AIAA. Doug Birkholz is an award-winning industrial designer and principal at Inspire Design Group LLC, a product design firm based in Middleton, Wisconsin.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Juan Suros on October 29, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a case study for launching the exploitation of space through private means. It has a thin framing story in which the writer claims to be writing a history of a company that is developing a reusable launch vehicle for sale on the open market.

As a fictional business case study, it makes for very interesting reading. The author knows his rocket science and celestial mechanics and lays out his ideas very well. I saw an earlier reviewer's complaint over the use of imperial rather than metric units, but it does not distract from the reasoning.

For a book on space travel, this book is unique in my experience in the detail to which it analyses the business requirements needed to make the ideas work. The idea that the rocket company intends only to manufacture and sell the launch vehicle described in the book is a big departure from the sort of space advocacy books that have been published since the great retreat from the moon.

There are various technical decisions made in the design process described in the book that I have a problem with, but I'd guess that every reader will feel this way and that every reader's quibbles will be different. That's what happens whenever a truly interesting idea is discussed.

I wish more of the ideas presented in the proposed design had been summarized in graphs. Hopefully future printings of the book will expand the one graph at the end into a series of appendices for the technically inclined.

Highly recommended.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Janet Dietz on August 31, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is promoted as a novel. It's much more than a novel -- it really is a primer of "rocket science." I'd rate it at least a 4 and 1/2 stars. I am a missile engineer with 27 years experience in the design and development of rockets and missiles. While most of my experience is with solid propellant missiles, I have a working knowledge of liquid rockets. Patrick tells it how it truly is. The book leads the reader through the classical trade-offs involved in designing a liquid-fueled payload-to-orbit rocket system. Not until the chapter suggesting the existence of a monestary on the moon did I come to appreciate that this is really fiction. I should acknowledge that I knew Patrick and worked with him on a single-stage-to-orbit system some 20 years ago. I have not had contact with him since then until I was alerted to the existence of this book by a friend we share in common.
[...]
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Peter Finch on January 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
The Rocket Company is well worth reading if you are a space nut. The authors are opinionated and don't really do justice to alternate ideas. Sometimes you get the feeling they are skipping over the hard parts. But they explore a lot of areas laymen don't think about, and that can be fun.

While this book is technically a novel, it reads more like a long, fictional HBS case. The characters and plot are unimportant. You are meant to read about the business and engineering and be interested in that. It's a book for nerds.

Technically, the book is so-so. The authors downplay testing. They push ultra-thin engineering margins. They introduce complexity where it seems unnecessary. It often seems like AMM (the rocket company) is doing things the hard way. Maybe these are literary tools used so that the authors can talk about their interests, but the reader is often left thinking "there's no way a rational company would do things that way or spend money on that". They approach business questions with a bit of wishful thinking. Regular VC discount rates do not apply. No real competitors will ever arise. To their credit they do at least think about business issues.

Good space books are thin on the ground. This one deals with a lot of the real complexity of an engineering company, and that makes it interesting. It's obviously timely, since numerous real companies are beginning to push into this world. If it was a book about any other topic, I'd give it three stars, but it's so unique in its depth and thought on this topic that I have to pump it up. In summary: It's a book for nerds. Mandatory reading for space nuts. Should not be taken as gospel.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michael Valdivielso on February 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
Do you wish to see what the future of space travel will be like? But sick of the artwork that does not seem to be realistic? Or sick of the sci-fi stories which seems to talk down to you? Want real engineers and pilots, not cowboys and comic book Heroes? Well, this is the book for you.
As you may notice, many have called it a fictional business plan for getting out there into space and in some ways that is true. But is also the nearest thing to a very realistic, hard science fiction story about getting into space. At first it may feel a tad slow but all the build up in the earlier chapters, all the details as the two stage rocket is designed, the funding collected and the future plotted out inch by inch, makes the later chapters easier to understand, as you are on the same page as the author, and make them go much faster.
It is not just all math and profit. There are a few wonderful drawings, lots of imagination, and even some humor. The end result is something hard sci-fi fans, like myself, not only can enjoy but it also promises ONE way that we can get off this planet, into space.
Because, if NASA can't do it, somebody else will have to.
If you enjoyed this book I would also suggest the anime Planetes: Complete Collection for its vision of the future. I would also suggest the following books, in no real order - Return to the Moon (Apogee Books Space Series),
...Read more ›
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