World of Aerospace  

       Introduction to Astronautics, Astronautics overview, History of Astronautics, Early and Modern Developments of Astronautics, 
     Future of Astronautics, Astrodynamics, Space Propulsion, Space-craft Design and Engineering, Space-craft Dynamics and Control and Space Enviornment


Astronautics is the science, engineering, understanding and technology related to space flight. Astronautics is derived from Greek words Astro and nautics.


Introduction to Astronautics

Astro means stars or cosmos meaning outer space and nautics means to sail or sailor; i.e. to sail the outer space or cosmos. Astronautics is related to Astronautical Engineering which is the sub-branch of Aerospace Engineering and is related to the study, engineering, design, manufacture and operations of space-crafts, rockets and space systems.


Astronautics is involved with all types of vehicles flying in outer-space be it space-crafts, outer space rockets, space stations like the ISS or the Mir space station, interplanetary probes, lunar probes, mars mission probes, satellites etc. Astronautics deals with the science and engineering of these flying vehicles and also deals with the eventual maintenance, repair and operations of these space-crafts. Astronautics is related to space-flight.


Astronautics and Astronautical Engineering, is the branch of science that deals with the study of flying machines and spacecrafts that operate outside the Earth’s atmosphere.


Astronautics Overview


Astronautics is the sub-branch of Aerospace. Outer space is a very harsh environment and a thorough understanding of space-flight and space-related phenomenon’s are of prime interest in Aeronautics. Astronautical systems operated in very extreme conditions from the sub-zero and near absolute zero temperatures, to the vacuum in space. The Astronautical systems that operate in this environment are constantly bombarded from radiations coming from the sun or interplanetary space and the cosmos. Space systems are affected by Earth’s magnetic fields and have to operate at optimum levels to minimize power consumption all in a system which is designed for minimal weight. The space systems designed by Astronautical engineers are designed to be redundant and highly reliable and safe.


Astronautical systems like Space launch vehicles and rockets have to repel the immense force of gravity to launch the space systems into space. Satellites have to be kept in orbit. The satellite orbits are perturbed and get degraded after some years of operation. Satellite systems can face extreme changes in temperature in very brief periods when in orbit. Astronautics engineers are always on the hunt to design systems which are low in cost, efficient and most importantly of less mass as each extra kg of mass costs thousands of dollars more.


Astronautics engineer’s efforts are aimed towards carrying the actual payload to the orbit costing less and the road to low cost is reached to low mass.  Astronautical Engineers also design interplanetary probes and also have played a pivotal role in man mission to the Moon and the future man mission to Mars.


History of Astronautics


Early Developments in Astronautics

Astronautics didn’t become a practical subject until the mid-20th century, but before that the fundamental science and mathematics related to space-flight was coined by Isaac Newton. Other mathematicians like Euler and Lagrange also contributed in this regard. Work by Galileo and Kepler regarding orbital motion of planets also played a vital role in the study of orbits and orbital mechanics necessary to launch satellites or interplanetary probes and making space-flight possible. Kepler’s three laws of planetary motion was the basis for understanding space-flight and how to fly around and navigate in space.


Modern Developments in Astronautics

It took more than 50 years more than the first successful heavier than air flight to launch a space-craft in this case the first artificial satellite into orbit Sputnik. Within a few years of the launch of Sputnik by the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. Astronautical study and understanding of astronautical phenomenon were vital to achieve this historical milestone in the history of human civilization. But before this, the fundamental maths related to space flight had to be understood.


In the beginning of the 20th Century, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky derived the rocket equation, the equation which governs the rocket propulsion. Work by early astronautical pioneers like United States Robert H. Goddard work on liquid fuel rockets eventually pave the way to the landing of first man on the moon Neil Armstrong. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has been at the forefront of astronautical research since then with interplanetary probes, Mars mission, Lunar probes and more.


Future of Astronautics

The future of Astronautics is extremely bright as the final frontier of outer space will be researched and explored in the 21st century. Man mission to Mars and the return to the moon will take place. Search for an Earth like planet will be carried out and the discovery and understanding of this universe and our solar system will take place. Space Tourism will get started in which people would be taken to outer space for recreation and leisure and to enjoy the view of earth from outer space. Such exciting times are to come soon thanks to the work and the research being continued in the field of Astronautics.


Sub-Disciplines of Astronautics


Astronautics is the sub-branch of Aerospace and is a specialized subjects but today astronautics has grown vastly to include many other sub-disciplines like Astrodynamics, Space Propulsion, Space-craft and Rocket Design and Engineering, Space-craft Control and Dynamics and Space Environment etc.



Astrodynamics deals with the study of orbital motion, and space-related phenomenon’s and motion of the space-craft in the outer space.


Space Propulsion

Space Propulsion is aimed towards the rocket propulsion systems for rockets including chemical propulsion, nuclear propulsion, electric propulsion, solid propulsion, ion propulsion. The Space propulsion also covers how to launch rockets into space, rocket fuel and rocket systems how to change space-systems orbits and how to maneuver these space systems through the use of reaction control jets.


Space-craft Design and Engineering

Space-craft and Space Launch Vehicle design and engineering involve a system engineering approach with each different field like propulsion, structure, control, dynamics, aerodynamics contributing to the eventual design of the space-craft or rocket system.


Space-craft Dynamics and Control

Space-craft or Satellite control and dynamics involve space navigation and attitude determination and control system applications.


Space Environment

In Space Environment, different space related phenomenons are studied including astrophysics, space weather, role of debris in space environment, space pollution impacts and more.


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