- Series: Dover Books on Aeronautical Engineering
- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: Dover Publications; Revised ed. edition (June 1, 1971)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0486600610
- ISBN-13: 978-0486600611
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 65 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Fundamentals of Astrodynamics (Dover Books on Aeronautical Engineering) Revised ed. Edition
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From the Back Cover
A new work, first published by Dover in 1971.
Top customer reviews
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The primary focus is on geocentric (Earth-centered) orbits. Especially the orbits of satellites and ballistic missiles. There are two chapters which include detailed information on Lunar injection trajectories and interplanetary transfer orbits.
You will need to know basic algebra, matrix multiplication, trigonometry, and vector mechanics in order to answer the questions. Fortunately, if you had a decent precalculus course in high school or college you should have all the math you need. There is also a nice review of vector mechanics in the appendix.
The only flaw I found was that some of the chapters were way too long. The author places all of the questions at the end of the chapter. So when you have a 100 page long chapter that is a lot of information to cover in the questions. If they ever make a second edition I would recommend that they place questions at the end of individual sections rather than have seven or eight sections worth of questions grouped together at the end of a chapter.
Also save yourself the trouble and make a formula chart. There are tons of formulas in this book and rather than having to flip pages constantly it is a lot easier to write every new formula down on a sheet of paper. These formula charts will make the exercises flow faster.
This book would be perfect for someone who wants to know how orbits work. It would also make a great gift for any Kerbal Space Program fans you know.
Also, I've used programming languages throughout my engineering career, and recently decided I need to learn Python.
So I decided to read this book as if I'm a student, and use Python to solve the problems. (I'm using Pythonista, an iOS app with useful Python 3.5 packages built in. Version 3.5 allows use of Greek characters in the code, so I can match those in the text.)
I initially researched, then decided to avoid certain astrodynamics packages available for the language; because they basically have all the problems solved.
What I have used though is the NumPy and SymPy packages, that give units and symbolic functions, such as finding the algebraic form of derivative of an algebraic expression.
The best part of this experience has been that the book uses units that I can program in the same fashion. When checking answers, the units print out along with the numbers, so if there's an error, I can see from the wrong units where the bug in my code might be.
The book has a handful of errors, as others have pointed out.
But one other issue has been that the time frame of the book (I was a sophomore in high school when the first edition was published) is such that precision problems encountered and discussed therein just don't exist.
For example, in Section 9.5, page 413, there is a discussion and examples of loss of precision because 'the machine' can only represent 6 significant digits. My Pythonista result for the same example problem shows 16 decimal digits; giving a correct answer where the book predicts a roundoff error in the 5th decimal digit. In all, there are many problems where the answer is different, and I have to just decide that it's a round off problem of the old computer, but not my code.
One intuitive connection pleasure has been due to my having been in a US Air Force radar surveillance career field in the late 70s, and the authors spend a bit of time on tidbits like determination of ICBM trajectory from 2 radar sitings (BMEWS), satellite tracking, other things where now I understand what my old radar computers were doing under the covers while I watched and tracked from my scope. (Side note: it was my exposure to computers during my radar days that influenced me to study and get my Bachelors in EE, focused on computers.)
Overall, it's been a useful book for learning the basic of the subject, as well as learning a new programming language.
On the down side, the paper and print could be better. The authors use the convention of placing small dots above the variable for time derivatives, and as my vision is not perfect, this required me to have a magnifier handy. For younger readers, this will be no problem.