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Welcome to Rocket and Space Technology. This Web page can trace its roots to the author's project to write a computer program simulating the launch of a rocket to orbit. As I performed my research it became apparent that most information on the subject tended toward one of two extremes: it was either too simplistic to be very helpful, or it was advanced texts written for engineers. I could find little information suitable for the space enthusiast who wanted to progress beyond the beginner level but who lacked the advanced math and science skills needed to understand the more complex texts.
After spending months digging through books and Internet sites I finally found the information needed to complete my project. Not wanting others to go through the same frustrating search, I decided to organize all the information into a single resource. Thus, in 1996 this Web page was created.
Most of the information from my original research can be found in the Basics of Space Flight section. Through the years additional information and sections have been added. It is my hope this site continues to grow and improve. Please enjoy your visit and learn a little about the fascinating science of space flight.
Robert A. Braeunig
This page is the launching pad to propel you on your visit through Rocket and Space Technology. You can visit any page by clicking on the section titles in the Table of Contents to the right or by clicking on any of the highlighted links. If you entered this site through the main index page will see a navigation bar across the bottom of this window. This bar includes links to all the major sections of this Web site. Alternatively, you can use the drop-down menu at the bottom of each page. Clicking "Home", either on the navigation bar or at the bottom of a page, will return you to this home page. If the navigation bar is not visible, try clicking Navigation Bar now to activate.
The Basics of Space Flight section is a tutorial designed to teach the basic science behind rocketry and space flight. Part I, Rocket Propellants, compares the properties of the various fuels and oxidizers used in rocketry. Part II, Rocket Propulsion, explains how rockets work and examines how engines convert chemical energy into thrust. Part III, Orbital Mechanics, discusses how space vehicles move under the influence of forces such as gravity, thrust, and drag. Part IV, Interplanetary Flight, studies the trajectories used to travel between planets.
This section is not for those with an aversion to mathematics as we focus largely on problem solving. Although some derivations use calculus, application of the derived formulae requires no more than an understanding of algebra and trigonometry. Each section includes example problems to demonstrate the use of the formulae.
I have personally authored only a small part of the text contained in Basics of Space Flight. The information was mostly assembled piecemeal from a variety of sources. I hope you find the final product a useful and well-organized compilation. All sources have been credited in my Bibliography page.
The Space Hardware section describes many space vehicles and launchers. Part I, Spacecraft Systems, defines the most common types of spacecraft and describes their primary subsystems. Part II, Launcher & Spacecraft Specifications, provides detailed technical data and description of most manned spacecraft, space stations, selected launchers, and engines. Part III, Space Launch Vehicles, is a list of the world's launch vehicles, both past and present (although currently not up to date).
The Space Missions section provides comprehensive lists of all major manned and robotic space flights. Part I, Manned Space Flights, includes all piloted manned missions by all nations. Part II, Planetary Spacecraft, includes most interplanetary space probes and landers. Part III, Lunar Spacecraft, includes most unmanned probes and landers sent to the Moon. These lists include not only the successful missions but the many failed attempts as well.
Satellites such as Sputnik and Explorer I, and observatories such as the Hubble Space Telescope, although historically and scientifically important, are not included because they do not fall into any of the three classifications described above.
In this section we provide a description of the work performed at each of the World's Space Centers. Included are both launch facilities and research & development centers. Also provided are a list of the number of orbital launches by site, complete through 1995, and a map showing the location of each launch center.
This site also includes a chronology of important Rocket & Space Milestones, a Glossary of many rocketry and space-related terms, and an Bibliography page where I give credit to all sources, both printed and Internet, used in the creation of this Web site.
The Discussion Forum, provided courtesy of The Space Race, is a good place to talk about space science and technology. You can ask questions and learn about rockets, space exploration, or any other related topic; or you can share your knowledge and help others. If you wish to engage in a discussion about any of the items found in this Web site, I recommend you visit the forum. Although I am happy to correspond via email, the forum will allow more people to contribute to the discussion.
This photograph is a view of the Gemini 7 spacecraft taken from the hatch window of Gemini 6 during rendezvous and station keeping maneuvers at an altitude of approximately 160 miles on December 15, 1965 (NASA Photo ID S65-63188). This photo was chosen for this Web site's logo because of the historical and technological significance of the joint Gemini 6-7 mission (plus it's just a really cool photo). This mission achieved the first rendezvous of two spacecraft. It was a critical milestone that without which a landing on the moon would have been impossible. This mission and the Gemini flights that followed taught Americans how to maneuver and work in space.
November-2017: Deleted Moon Landing Hoax section.
November-2013: Added "Gravitational Assist" to the Interplanetary Flight section.
November-2012: Added the appendix Rocket Thermodynamics.
May-2012: Added the page Interplanetary Flight and appendices Vector Mechanics and Planet Positions.
February-2012: Revised the Orbital Mechanics section. Added "The Hyperbolic Orbit" and added material to "Launch of a Space Vehicle."
August-2009: Added design information about nozzle shapes and combustion chambers to the Rocket Propulsion section.
June-2007: Reorganized and renumbered the Basics of Space Flight section. Added new material to the Rocket Propulsion and Orbital Mechanics sections.
August-2006: Added the page Rocket & Space Milestones.
October-2005: Made additions to the Rocket Propulsion section. Added Propellant Combustion Charts. Updated Atlas and Delta launch vehicles.
January-2005: Made extensive revisions and additions to the Orbital Mechanics section. Converted all example problems to the SI System of units.
August-2004: The entire Web site was given a major makeover. The home page was redesigned, several pages were consolidated, and site navigation was improved. Link to the discussion forum was added.