Thrust Into Space

Thrust Into Space is the best text on orbital mechanics and an excellent introduction to propulsion systems. It is difficult to write a book on the subject which is neither so oversimplified that it insults the intelligence, nor so mathematical that it is accessible only to specialists. Hunter succeeded.

Cover to Thrust into Space
The claim that propulsion is the key to space exploration has been repeated so often it has become trite. Even so, its importance is not always grasped. Many difficult techniques must be mastered in order to conquer space. It is important to spend time and effort learning to do them all well. Guidance and communication are examples. But it is inadequate propulsion — nothing else — which has limited the human race to one planet thus far. With excess propulsion, any guidance problem could be solved by carrying enough corrective thrust capability and any communication problem with enough power and equipment. All the sophisticated guidance and communication techniques in the universe, however, are of no help if the vehicle cannot carry a useful payload to space.

In the future, propulsion is undoubtedly the key to the magnitude of further space exploration and exploitation. Once such techniques as guidance and communication are mastered, miniaturized and routinized, they become relatively fixed-cost adjuncts of programs. Propulsion, however, determines the economic feasibility of space operations. Size of vehicles and fuel loads carried represent the fundamental price to be paid for space transportation. The question is whether the future of space exploration is merely to provide an expensive playground for select scientists and astronauts, as most people currently think, or whether it is to provide a vastly expanded domain for the entire human race, adding whole planets as the new worlds of the future. The answer lies strictly in the economics of space propulsion.
In this book, I have attempted to cover propulsion from the viewpoint of the systems architect, rather than the propulsion designer. Each chapter covers a certain velocity region. Each contains a discussion of basic flight mechanics of that region as an aid to understanding the appropriate propulsion systems.
Some knowledge of flight mechanics is essential to any real understanding of propulsion systems.

Thrust Into Space is written for the modern, technically oriented high school student. Only comparatively simple expressions are utilized. Much of the massive calculations performed today are used to refine the last ounce of performance out of very complicated systems. This refinement is justified in design procedures, but use of the complicated calculations creates some risk that the user will lose sight of the fundamentals. Whether high school student or executive, basic decisions must be clearly related to the fundamentals in today’s complicated technical world.

Today, we are engaged in materializing a two-thousand-year old dream of mankind. These dreams, and the restless, inquisitive drive of the human race to achieve its dreams, are the reasons we are going to space. I believe strongly that we should buckle down to the hard and spectacular job of engineering those dreams. That is why most of this book is devoted to future propulsion capabilities, not past propulsion history.

About the ePub Second Edition

The second edition is provided in electronic book ePub format. Electronic books have no fixed page numbers. However, for the purposes of the index, the page numbers listed correspond to hypertext links that are located at the same locations of the original text. (You can click on an index page link and be taken to that portion of the text.) The 73 original black and white illustrations have been redrawn in color. Additionally, 30 color photographs of rockets and planets cited in the book have been added.

Instructional Aids

The following slides and spreadsheets are available: