Gakken has at least two mooks out regarding space (one is specifically for looking at the constellations), but only one was released under the Otona no Kakagu label. Rockets and Space Exploration is just the mook – no kit or DVD. It came out on July 14, 2009. 154 pages, 1680 yen ($20 USD). You can still get it directly from Gakken, but I found it at the Junku bookstore here in Kagoshima City in the General Astronomy section.
While Gakken bills it as the “definitive edition of space rockets – space development”, I’d say that it is closer to a good overview. After all, a “definitive book” would be an encyclopedia running 20-30 volumes at a minimum. Even so, R&SE is a good start if you just like looking at pictures. The mook starts out with a photo essay, then looks at the U.S. – Russia space race. This is followed by a section on NASA’s Apollo program, and Russia’s Soyuz.
There’s a section on the Space Shuttle and the Space Station, satellite photos of each of the planets, and then looks at Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Robert Goddard, Hermann Oberth, Werner von Braun and Sergey Korolyov.
Next, there’s an overview of Tsiolkovsky’s notes regarding rocket flight, followed by examples of rockets from China, India and Japan. Additionally, there are examinations of space vehicles, suits, and food. Another article speculates on how to create a station on the moon and suggests a second race for Luna. The last few articles are on Japanese amateur-built rockets (including Camui), satellite photos of the moon, and finally toys and goods sold in Japan from the 1960’s to the present (you can buy a JAXA orange jumpsuit for $5000 if you want).
The front page is a fold-out poster with a cut-away view of the Saturn-V on one side, and a complete chronology of space flight on the other. Taken as a whole, R&SE is great just as a picture book, even if you can’t read Japanese. And, for you conspiracy theorists, there’s even an article on the moon landing hoax. Lots of glossy full-color photos and explanations of the math behind space flight. Recommended.
(Amateur team making their own rocket.)