An Introduction to Rocket Science

“It’s not rocket science, you know” is such a cliché. The British Interplanetary Society is offering a one-day introduction aimed at the general public which assumes absolutely no knowledge of anything spacey. A series of excellent presenters will give twelve talks covering the basics of astronautics starting from “Why can’t we simply fly an aeroplane to space?” through to GPS, LEO and even the chances of meeting E.T. At the conclusion of the day, the British Interplanetary Society will give out a certificate for attendees, signed by the BIS President, to hang on their walls in recognition that they’ve attended this introduction to rocket science.*

123The event will take place in the Faraday Theatre of the Royal Institution, Albemarle St, London W1S 4BS on Saturday 6 May between 8,30am and 6pm.
The Faraday Theatre is the venue of the renowned annual Christmas Lectures.

Ticket prices
£79 for standard attendees, booked through the BIS website
£49 for under 18s, students in full-time education, and members of the British Interplanetary Society, booked through the BIS website

Tickets may also be available on the day for £99 (£59 concessions) if space permits


There will be 12 presentations, each covering an aspect of space science, done quickly, entertainingly and giving an overview.


08:30 Doors open.

09:15 Introduction

09:30 Why can’t we simply fly to space in a plane?

10:00 How to build a satellite
A “Haynes manual”.

10:30 So what have satellites done for us?
GPS, weather forecasts and satellite applications

11:00 Coffee break

11:30 Observing our planet from above

12:00 Beyond Earth orbit
Designing better rockets and using new technology to explore further

12:30 Astronauts or robots?
Dr Stuart Eves and Dr Chris Welch fight it out for the third and concluding bout of their “astronauts v robots” debate.

13:00 Lunch

13:45 The higher or lower quiz – as the lunch break ends, a fun introduction to the afternoon talks, which begin again at 2pm.

14:00 E.T. Phone Home!
Hello? Hello? Is there anybody out there? The Drake equation and all that.

14:30 Space Exploration
A guide on where we’ve got to so far

15:00 What’s it like living in space
An astronaut’s guide…

15:30 Coffee break

16:00 It’s not only teflon, you know
Actually the series of space technology spinoffs doesn’t include teflon in the first place! But the list of how utilising space has helped us here on Earth is quite long…

17:00 What’s next?
Nearly fifty years ago now, humanity stepped onto the Moon. Are we off to step on Mars or even further? Or will robotic missions take us further to other solar systems?

17:30 We’re all going to die anyway!
We’re all doomed. Still – mustn’t grumble.

After the event, you can collect your attendance certificate, signed by the BIS President.

The 1950 Bumper launch

Bumper launch – from 1950, the year ‘health and safety’ forgot

Click here to reserve your place


* Certificates will be printed in advance for attendees who sign up before 1 May. Those who sign up later, or on the day, need to leave their postal details.

Be sociable; support the BIS!