Since the launch of the first spacecraft in 1957, space technology has transformed our daily lives by introducing innovations such as worldwide telecommunications, broadcasting, weather forecasting and navigation. Recent years have seen a revival in the field of space systems engineering and astronautics due to increased reliance on space infrastructure to provide communications and navigation services, not to mention ongoing endeavours in human and robotic space exploration.

Ulrich Walter, a former astronaut and expert on space, presents in this textbook a thorough introduction to the physical principles underlying spaceflight and space exploration. Starting with the fundamentals of rocket propulsion and rocket trajectories, the author continues with a discussion of orbital and interplanetary flight mechanics, followed by guidance and re-entry. Ulrich Walter provides an understanding and insight beyond the numeric solution of equations by developing an appreciation for fundamental concepts. Moreover, he is not reluctant to study the possibility of the occurrence of life in supposed multidimensional universes based on the stability analysis of planetary orbits nor to investigate relativistic space travel á la Star Trek from a mathematical perspective.

This text is based on extensive teaching experience and work with students at the Technical University, Munich, and includes selected chapter-end examples and problems. The reader will learn how to solve a given problem using a network of formulas and astronautic relationships presented in the book. Astronautics is a textbook for graduate level courses such as Satellite Engineering and Space Systems Engineering as well as professionals working in space industry.

From the contents:

Rocket Principles and Flight

Thermal and Electric Propulsion

Interplanetary Flight

Ascent and Reentry

Orbit Mechanics

Orbit Perturbations

Three-Body Problem

Rigid Body Dynamics