Detailed Book Review - The Rocket Company

Book Review:
"The Rocket Company"
Patrick Stiennon (Author), David Hoerr (Author), Peter Diamandis (Foreword), Doug Birkholz (Illustrator)

--  Azeem J. Khan

What does it take to go into space? All through human civilization, there  was been the wonder when looking at celestial objects. Poets have spoken of reaching out and touching the stars, of bringing the moon down to earth, of plucking these celestial objects from the sky, of gods and goddesses and human souls becoming these celestial objects. Even the pharaohs spoke of building a pyramid that would ascend into the sky. However, it was not until the 20th century that going into space was considered practical.


The Rocket Company is a fictional account of a company that makes reaching out to space a humdrum affair for the current generation of human beings by building a cheap spacecraft. A dream that is slowly but surely being realized by more people as a number of efforts to expand beyond Earth have gathered steam in recent years. One could argue that it is books like The Rocket Company that has fueled these dreams. The book covers the adventures of a company with the benign name of AM&M (American Mining and Manufacturing). As becomes abundantly clear right from the second chapter of the book, launching a space vehicle is a daunting endeavour. However, a very surprising insight into the construction of reusable space launch vehicles is that the business aspect requires tremendous amount of cleverness. And that is partly responsible for this mundane name for a space company.

The book has two principal protagonists, the chief funder of the entire company, a Mr. John Forsyth (a multi-billionaire) and the chief engineer for the design of the spacecraft, a Mr. Tom Rabbet. The complete trust and singular vision that guides both the protagonists enables them to create a feasible design based on the start of the art. Their level of commitment is so high that they even connive together to present ‘just the right’ picture to potential investors and customers. Throughout the book, we are dealt with a series of highly technical but completely relevant information on the decisions taken by the protagonists in their quest. This sometimes excruciating level of detail reinforces on the reader how utterly devoted you must be to push beyond the state of the art. Being smart is just the basic qualificationto even think of participation in this arena.

You are subjected to an immense volume of information on metallurgy and energy storage and release capabilities of different chemicals. Note that the book describes the accounts of AM&M in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Hence, it does not presume the existence of any new propulsion technology such as nuclear fusion. In that sense, the book is utterly grounded in reality. The book manages to maintain a very strong grip on the reader and successfully creates what used to be called a ‘page turner’. You just don’t want to put it down. A few visual descriptions evoke awe as if you were watching the events in person. Pencil sketches in the beginning of each chapter are a welcome relief after reading a long prose of technical information. The main drawback of the book is also one of it’s strengths---the detailed amount of information on chemistry, physics and metallurgy. Often times, I felt that a table or a figure would illustrate some information much better than a page of prose. Nevertheless, ignoring some of the more esoteric details will not detract your pleasure from the rest of the book. A fantastic read and I recommend all the IndianSpaceStation’s readers to grab a copy.

  • Print quality: Kindle Edition
  • Accessibility: College level
  • Content : Excellent
  • Category: Fiction
  • Overall: Excellent
Our evaluations are rated as follows:
  • Poor : Shoddy work. Not to be entertained.
  • Average: Nothing exceptional about it. Above Average: Some points of note.
  • Good: A high standard exhibited throughout the book.
  • Excellent: Outstanding piece of work. A must-read.

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