The book has illustrations and images sourced from various space research organisations, a glimpse into the gamut of space-related scientific endeavours
Rockets have always ignited the imagination of children. But there are not many around who can adequately answer children’s queries about the topic.
Which is probably why the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) brought out a coffee-table book, ‘Rockets and Beyond’ authored by V. P. Balagangadharan, former scientist and group head at VSSC.
Published as part of VSSC Technical Documentation and Archival Division’s outreach programme, the volume is a delightful read, presenting in a nutshell the genesis and evolution of rockets and space science.
It also gives, with illustrations and images sourced from various space research organisations, a glimpse into the gamut of space-related scientific endeavours and the way to the future.
“Children visiting the VSSC space museum and field exhibitions at various places do get a glimpse of rockets and space exploration, but carry home more questions.
This book is meant to answer some such questions and to create still more questions for them to explore,” VSSC Director P. S. Veeraraghavan writes in his foreword to the volume.
Written in lucid, conversational language, the book explains the fundamentals of rocketry and space science through familiar examples.
It outlines the anatomy of rockets, their design, types of rockets, assembly, launch infrastructure, navigation in space, deployment of satellites, orbit control, satellite telemetry, tracking and command, payloads, and the diverse use of satellites.
It also explains the standing of the indigenous PSLV and GSLV in comparison with rockets used elsewhere. Further, there is also a mention of space debris.
The volume offers a fairly good account of the Indian space programme, with pictures to boot, and goes on to showcase modern technologies such as space capsule recovery. It doubtless excites students to understand the shape of things to come, when there would be fully reusable rockets and India would safely send astronauts to space.
In its most interesting segment, the book talks about space legends and the qualities required to become an astronaut.
Special care is taken to describe in detail space clothing, docking of space vehicle at the space station, breathing, health, food and personal upkeep like having a haircut or a bath in space. It is fascinating to read about the kind of life astronauts lead in space, the way they work, sleep and do housekeeping.
“At typical heights where manned spacecraft operate, the time for revolution around earth is about 90 minutes. So ‘a day’ is only 90 minutes. But it is usual for astronauts to keep earth-time — 24 hours. An astronaut gets eight hours each day for sleep. In a free fall one can sleep in any position. In some cases, sleep bags are fastened to the wall and people sleep ‘standing’,” it narrates.
The Hindi version of the book was released at ISRO headquarters in Bangalore in February and the English version at VSSC in March. The Malayalam version is due for release. The book is currently made available by the ISRO to school students for free. However, efforts are under way to commercially launch it and make it available at book stores.