Rockets and space travel are both fascinating topics, but few people really hold a firm understanding of just how rockets work or how space travel is possible. Udemy’s Rocket Engineering and Interstellar Space Propulsion course ($12.99) provides a considerable amount of information on both topics crammed into a short 2.5-hour program. Although this series of lectures is quite interesting, it’s a hard course to recommend.
The first lecture in this course sets a solid foundation for the rest of the course to build on. It defines a rocket as any type of motorized device that contains both its own mass to expel (i.e. fuel) and its own oxidant (i.e. oxygen). The lecture follows this up with an overview of Newton’s three laws of motion and a look at something called “the rocket equation,” which is used to determine a rocket’s velocity.
This first lecture is filled with math equations, but it’s not too difficult to understand as the terms are explained in a fairly simple manner. Unfortunately, the complexity just increases from here, and some lectures are rather difficult to fully comprehend. The lecturer attempts to break up the more complicated sections by inserting simpler lectures such as one that discusses the need for reusable space launchers. This helps to keep things from becoming overwhelming, and I personally enjoyed these lectures more than the complex and detailed ones.
After going through this lecture series, I can honestly say that I found them to be quite interesting in places, but they are also overly complicated. One thing that still perplexes me is what was this course’s goal. At times the lectures appear to be focused on providing you with a solid understanding of the current state of rocket technology and the challenges facing modern space travel, but some lectures instead appear to be targeted at potential students of rocket science and dive into complex mathematical equations. A certain amount of this appears useful, such as the math covered in the first lecture, but the rest of it appears to serve no purpose except to make an already hard subject even harder to understand.
All things considered, I’d definitely recommend it if you aren’t afraid of a bit of math and are truly fascinated about rocket technology, but everyone else should probably look elsewhere for less detailed information on this topic.