Publisher Information: Paris: Lahure, 1930.
Esnault-Pelterie, Robert (1881-1957). L’Astronautique. , 248pp. Errata slip bound before p. 7. Frontispiece portrait signed by the author (found only in copies printed on thick paper), 9 folding plates. Paris: A. Lahure, 1930. 246 x 162 mm. (thick paper). Quarter morocco, marbled boards (slight edgewear), original printed wrappers bound in. Fine copy. Presentation copy, inscribed by Esnault-Pelterie to André-Gustave Citroën (1878-1935) on p. : “Affectueux hommage à André Citroën et aussi témoinage d’admiration pour son oeuvre et sa tenacité, R Esnault Mai 1930.”
First Edition of Esnault-Pelterie’s most important contribution to rocketry; inscribed by Esnault-Pelterie to André-Gustave Citroën, founder of the automobile company that bears his name. The inscription is also notable for dating from May 1930, when the work was first published. This is one of a relatively small number of copies that Esnault-Pelterie had printed on fine, thick paper for presentation. These copies also have a signed frontispiece portrait of REP. The bulk of the edition was printed on ordinary paper without the frontispiece.
L’Astronautique was the first work to popularize the word astronautics among the scientific community. The book encompassed all that was then known about rocketry and space flight. The work is
"a veritable treatise on space vehicles that served as a basis for all later works on this subject. It is a very profound theoretical study based on the thorough knowledge of celestial mechanics, astrophysics, and ballistics, as well as physical chemistry and physiology. Nothing in it has yet been invalidated. This book is a basic text for all interested in astronautics. One needs only to scan the chapter titles to see that it is both a scientific and technical document and an encyclopedia of precious practical knowledge:
• Rocket Motion in Vacuum and Air
• Density and Composition of the Very High Atmosphere
• Expansion of Combination Gases through a Nozzle
• Combustion in a Chamber
• Possible Use of Rockets (high altitude exploration, launching projectiles to the moon, high-speed travel around the earth, and travel through the atmosphere)
• Interplanetary Travel (with sections on the conditions under which trips around the moon will be carried out, the design of the spaceship, guidance, navigation and piloting devices, the conditions for habitation).
For these last points, [Esnault-Pelterie] states that the spaceship could be filled with pure oxygen, which would reduce the pressure to about a tenth that of the atmosphere . . . [He] also suggests that the spaceship, for its return to earth, be turned and braked first by its own engines (today’s retrorockets) and then by the use of a parachute" (Durant and James, First Steps toward Space, pp. 11-12).Book Id: 48889