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Customer Review

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Intro to Orbital Mechanics (2nd Edition), November 29, 2011
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This review is from: Orbital Mechanics for Engineering Students, Second Edition (Aerospace Engineering) (Hardcover)
I recently read the 2nd edition of this book. Though I am more advanced in my experience and knowledge of much of the material covered, I picked up this book for a great deal and thought it would be interesting to brush up on some basics in a few areas. I also always enjoy seeing the different approaches used by various authors when covering a particular topic within such a subject area. I must say that this is one of the best introductions to orbital mechanics and astrodynamics that I've ever come across.

There are a few minor errors in the 2nd edition and the errata sheet is available at the publisher's website if you look for it. Again, they are few in number and very minor. I have read many very technical books from advanced dynamics to advanced radar theory and I can tell you it is rare to come across a text that has absolutely no errors, regardless of how many peers review the work prior to publication. In writing many technical works of my own in my career, including complex mathematical algorithms, having those works peer reviewed, as well as participating in the peer review of others' works, I have noticed a phenomenon at work that helps to ensure that at least some errors eventually make it through to publication. When you are intimately familiar with a subject, I believe the brain will occassionally read what is supposed to be on the page rather than what actually is. However, the few errors that are present (less than two pages, large type and large line spacing on the errata sheet) are more than overshadowed by the overall quality and content of the book.

I urge you to ignore the personal attacks of one reviewer and consider the content and worthiness of the work. Also note that some of the prior reviews have nothing to do with the book itself or its content (e.g. complaints about delivery problems, getting the wrong version when purchasing the Kindle edition, etc). These affect the overall rating of the book even when they do not critique the work itself.

The explanations provided by the author are very clear and concise. The ideal combination of content. It does expect you to know a little calculus to follow some of the derivations but that shouldn't be an obsticle to applying the knowledge of the end-results of the derivations.

I am particularly pleased by the consistency in use of notation, something that I cannot say for many works on more advanced topics. Standard, widely-accepted vector, matrix and calculus notation is utilized and kept consistent within the text and between the text and the figures. I have authored many technical works in my career (published only within DoD programs) and have a deep understanding of the difficulty in expressing complex concepts in the form of graphical aids to support the discussion in the text. Especially without using color and shading to assist in properly depicting three-dimensional concepts. While the illustrations in this text aren't as complex as many I have had to produce, I was impressed by how well simple black-and-white line drawings and gray-shaded drawings were used in this work.

The topics covered, and the examples presented, provide a rather comprehensive introduction to the subject matter.
I urge you to use Amazon's "Look Inside" feature to review the table of contents. I found some of the example problems to be rather unique and interesting compared to typical examples encountered in other works.

I'll admit that I skipped the sections on parabolic and hyperbolic orbits as they did not of particular interest to me.

However, I have no problems recommending this text to anyone (with a little calculus background and a little physics background preferred) who need to obtain a good introduction to orbital mechanics/fundamental astrodynamics. This book will provide you with a solid foundation to continue studying more advanced subjects in space flight dynamics, satellite attitude determination/control, mission planning, tracking, re-entry dynamics, and more.

In summary, a great introduction and worthy of the price.
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