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My Orbital Mechanics Recommended Reading List

January 26, 2012

I’m often asked to recommend orbital mechanics books and technical reports. The following is a short list of the resources that I use frequently. Most of these books can be purchased from Amazon and several are available as eBooks.

Orbital Mechanics”, Vladimir Chobotov, published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), This book includes clear explanations about fundamental orbital mechanics.  It also contains a advanced chapter about low-thrust orbit transfer.  Many of the chapters were written by staff members of the Astrodynamics Department at The Aerospace Corporation (which we fondly called Circle A).  The book includes a CD ROM with several orbital mechanics applications.

Fundamentals of Astrodynamics and Applications”, David Vallado, published by Microcosm Press. Companion software for free in MATLAB, C and Fortran is also available. This is a excellent text written by someone with lots of practical experience.

Orbital Mechanics for Engineering Students”, Prof. Howard Curtis, published by Butterworth-Heinemann. Although written for college students, the practicing aerospace engineer will also find this book quite useful. MATLAB code for many of the examples and homework problems is available.

An Introduction to the Mathematics and Methods of Astrodynamics”, Prof. Richard Battin, published by the AIAA.  This is one of the most comprehensive textbooks about fundamental orbital mechanics.

Methods of Orbit Determination”, P. R. Escobal, published by Krieger Publishing Company. This is a classic text with algorithms for predicting rise and set, shadow conditions, etc.

Adventures in Celestial Mechanics”, Prof. Victor Szebehely, published by Wiley. Easy to read but quite informative.

There are also several technical documents in the Technical Reports section of my website ( Among the resources in this section are the following;

“Orbit Theory and Applications”, E. Taylor

“Handbook of Orbital Perturbations”, Prof. Leon Blitzer

“Astrodynamics”, G. S. Gedeon

“If I have seen further it is by standing on ye sholders of Giants.”

Isaac Newton, February 1676

(Note that sholders is the original spelling, not a typo.)


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  1. Luis Gasca permalink

    Hi there,
    I was looking for hoping to access the Technical Reports on your website, but your site is down. Do you still have them?

    Also, many thanks for the blog. I have been looking to get into industry/gradschool soon (took time off to teach). This was the material I liked most in my degree, and really want to really develop my skills for this. I was wondering if you had tips on what specific technical skills were crucial, and how to strengthen them.

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