1st Edition

Introduction to Rocket Science and Space Exploration

By A. Sivathanu Pillai Copyright 2023
    248 Pages 143 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    The growing demand of space services for imaging, mobile communication, global positioning systems and disaster management, life extension of satellites by fueling, space station operations, deflecting incoming asteroids, and reducing debris from orbits, requires reusable rockets. The chapters in the book cover understanding of the universe, history of rockets, space missions, satellites, the principle of rocketry, its design and development, rocket technology, the solar system, the environment and protection of earth, and thoughts on Earth 2.0.


    • Explores the link between universe, space exploration, and rocketry.
    • Discusses topics such as protection of the Earth from asteroids, debris, and global warming.
    • Includes basic methodology to be adopted to design rockets for various applications.
    • Covers use of multi-objective optimisation to realise a system and differences in design philosophies for satellite launch.
    • Examines material on environmental protection of the Earth.

    This book is aimed at senior undergraduates and professionals in aerospace engineering.

    Chapter 1: Introduction

    Chapter 2: Understanding the Universe

    Verse from Ancient India
    Great Indian Ancient Scientists
    Emerging new Scientific Thoughts on Universe

    Chapter 3: Brief History of Rockets

    Early Understanding
    Indian War Rocket
    Birth of Modern Rocketry
    Tsiolkovsky, Rocket Equation
    Robert H Goddard-Liquid Propellant Rocket
    Hermann Oberth- Interplanetary Space
    Vernher von Braun and V2 missile
    Sergei Korolev, Sputnik-1 in orbit, ICBM,
    Man on Moon
    Space Shuttle
    Launch Vehicles of the world

    Chapter 4: Rocket Principles

    What is a rocket? Basic rocket science
    Newton’s Laws of Motion
    Forces on Rocket
    The Rocket Equation- Thrust, Acceleration, Specific Impulse, Incremental Velocity

    Chapter 5: Rocket Systems Development

    Rocket Subsystems and Components
    Stability and control
    Navigation and Guidance

    Chapter 6: Rocket Design Methodology, Test & Evaluation, World Launch Sites

    Launch Vehicle Design Methodology
    Design Adequacy, Tests & Reviews
    ISRO Mars mission, Trajectory design
    Human to Mars, SLS design
    Launch Sites of Space Faring Countries

    Chapter 7: Satellite, Orbits and Missions                                        
    Importance of Satellites
    Satellite Orbits, Orbital Velocity
    Hohmann Transfer
    Escape Velocity for planetary mission
    First launch by countries
    Mission Planning
    Satellite Applications
    Small Satellites
    Private Space Operators- Missions to Moon and Mars
    Human Space Missions, Space Stations-ISS, Chinese TIANGONG, India-Gaganyaan
    China-Russia Lunar Research Station

    Chapter 8: Advances in Space Technologies

    Can we travel faster than light?
    Electric Propulsion
    Hall Effect Thrusters
    Magneto Plasma Rocket Propulsion- VASIMR-39 days to Mars
    Nuclear Propulsion Rockets
    Solar Electric Propulsion
    Solar Thermal Propulsion
    Laser Propulsion – 3 days to Mars
    Solar and Laser Powered Interstellar Sail
    Hypersonic Transportation
    Hyperplane and Low-cost Access to Space
    Solar Power Satellite
    AI and Robotics Spacecraft
    Lunar Industry, He-3 as energy source, Launch pad on Moon

    Chapter 9: Environment: Protection of Earth, and Geo-spatial Technologies

    Challenges for Space Community
    Threats from Outer Space
    Protection of Earth from Risky Asteroids, Collision Avoidance Strategies
    Clearing Space Debris
    In-orbit Servicing
    Space Security
    Space Weather
    Man Contributed Threats on Land and atmosphere
    Geospatial Technologies for Sustainable Development
    Chapter 10: Exoplanets, Earth 2.0

    Nearest Stars to Sun
    Exoplanets in Livable Zones
    Probable Earth 2.0


    A. Sivathanu Pillai graduated in Engineering in 1969, and then worked in ISRO and DRDO during the last five decades, under aerospace leaders Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, Prof. Satish Dhawan and Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. He was also visiting professor in IISc and IITs. His active participation in the development of Satellite Launch vehicles and Guided missiles made him to specialise in Multi – disciplinary technology projects, Rocket Technology, Aerospace Systems, Institution Build up and Advanced system engineering and Program management. Dr. Pillai’s skills in networking multiple institutions for the development of critical missile technologies overcoming denial regimes (Missile Technology Control Regime) enabled realization of strategic missiles. Dr. Pillai was the Architect and Founder CEO & MD of BrahMos Aerospace, which is a unique Joint Venture, first of its kind between India and Russia to design, develop, produce, and market the most advanced supersonic cruise missile, BRAHMOS, which has been inducted in the Indian Armed Forces, as a major strike weapon.

    Fifteen academic institutions in India and abroad have recognised Prof. Pillai’s scientific contributions and awarded Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa). He is a recipient of many prestigious national and international awards and Fellowships, most importantly Padma Bhushan (2013) and Padma Shri (2002) by Government of India, Order of Friendship (2013) by the Government of Russian Federation. Prof. Pillai has written ten books including, The success mantra of BRAHMOS, 40 years with Abdul Kalam – Untold Stories, Revolution in Leadership, Nano Science and Nano Technology for Engineering and co-authored with Dr. Abdul Kalam for the books (a) Envisioning an Empowered Nation and (b) ‘Thoughts for Change – we can do it’ (Defining 10 futuristic technologies).