Illustrations.- Author's preface.- Chapter 1: Introduction.- Chapter 2: A crash course in rocket plane design.- Chapter 3: Germany's wonder weapons.- Chapter 4: Non-German wartime rocket fighters.- Chapter 5: The rise and fall of the rocket interceptor.- Chapter 6: Breaking the barrier.- Chapter 7: Rocket plane spaceflight.- Chapter 8: Future spaceplanes.- Chapter 9: Joyriding a rocket plane.- Chapter 10: Man versus robot.- Chapter 11: Conclusions.- Appendix: Aircraft maximum velocity and altitude evolution.- Bibliography.- Index.
This book describes the technology, history, and future of rocket planes. Michel van Pelt journies into this exciting world, examining the exotic concepts and actual flying vehicles that have been devised over the last hundred years. He recounts the history of rocket airplanes, from the early pioneers who attached simple rockets onto their wooden glider airplanes to the modern world of high-tech research vehicles. The author visits museums where rare examples of early rocket planes are kept and modern laboratories where future spaceplanes are being developed. He explains the technology in an easily understandable way, describing the various types of rocket airplanes and looking at the possibilities for the future.
Michel van Pelt considers future spaceplanes, presenting various modern concepts and developments. He describes the development from cutting edge research via demonstrator vehicles to operational use. He also evaluates the replacement of the Space Shuttle with a seemingly old-fashioned capsule system, the parallel developments in suborbital spaceplanes such as SpaceShipOne and SpaceShipTwo, piloted versus automatic flight, and related developments in airliners and military aircraft.