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Orbital Mechanics - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780750661690, 9780080470542

Orbital Mechanics

1st Edition

For Engineering Students

Author: Howard Curtis
eBook ISBN: 9780080470542
Imprint: Butterworth-Heinemann
Published Date: 17th December 2004
Page Count: 704
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Table of Contents

Introduction; Dynamics of Point Masses; The Two Body Problem; Orbital Position as a Function of Time; Orbits in Three Dimensions; Preliminary Orbit Determination; Orbital Maneuvers; Relative Motion and Rendezvous; Interplanetary Trajectories; Rigid Body Dynamics; Satellite Attitude Dynamics; Rocket Vehicle Dynamics; Physical Data; Numerical Integration of the N-Body Equations of Motion; MATLAB Algorithms; Gravitational Potential Energy of a Sphere; Solutions Manual


Orbital mechanics is a cornerstone subject for aerospace engineering students. However, with its basis in classical physics and mechanics, it can be a difficult and weighty subject. Howard Curtis - Professor of Aerospace Engineering at Embry-Riddle University, the US's #1 rated undergraduate aerospace school - focuses on what students at undergraduate and taught masters level really need to know in this hugely valuable text. Fully supported by the analytical features and computer based tools required by today's students, it brings a fresh, modern, accessible approach to teaching and learning orbital mechanics. A truly essential new resource.

Key Features

  • A complete, stand-alone text for this core aerospace engineering subject
  • Richly-detailed, up-to-date curriculum coverage; clearly and logically developed to meet the needs of students
  • Highly illustrated and fully supported with downloadable MATLAB algorithms for project and practical work; with fully worked examples throughout, Q&A material, and extensive homework exercises.


Undergraduate students in aerospace, astronautical, mechanical engineering and engineering physics. Widely applicable to taught Masters level courses in similar subjects. Ideal for courses in orbital mechanics, including astronomy, cosmology, general mechanical engineering courses with options in space or satellite engineering, and various mathematics disciplines. Related professional aerospace and space engineering fields. Space, rocket and satellite systems engineering form key divisions of most major aeronautical groups, including organisations such as NASA, the European Space Agency, and commercial organisations such as Boeing, BAe Space Systems, etc.


No. of pages:
© Butterworth-Heinemann 2004
17th December 2004
eBook ISBN:


Curtis, a professor with many years of technical teaching experience (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univ., FL), presents the foundations of orbital mechanics. The book has 11 chapters, four of which are optional, that concentrate on basic orbital mechanics, orbital maneuvers, and satellite mechanics. The reader should know calculus and be able to use computers with software packages in mathematics. A background in physics, dynamics, differential equations, vector notation, and linear algebra is presumed. The book contains worked-out problems and derivations in which each step is provided so that the reader does not have to puzzle over missing steps--an attractive feature. The reader can download copies of needed programs and obtain a solutions manual separately. Use of the five appendixes is often needed to address the information in the chapters. Figure quality is excellent and there is a 15-page index. This work is suitable for readers adequately prepared in mathematics and physics. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals. -- W. E. Howard III, formerly, Universities Space Research Association - July 2005, CHOICE. "...this textbook must be praised for its clear derivations of all equations, presentation of even the most difficult aspects of orbital mechanics based on first principles and a very large amount of well-chosen solved examples. This book will be exceedingly attractive and useful not only to students but also to other researchers or practiced engineers attempting to understand the very exciting and useful field of orbital mechanics." - Alexander M. Jablonski, 'Orbital Mechanics for Engineering Students', June 2005

Ratings and Reviews

About the Author

Howard Curtis

Professor Curtis is former professor and department chair of Aerospace Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He is a licensed professional engineer and is the author of two textbooks (Orbital Mechanics 3e, Elsevier 2013, and Fundamentals of Aircraft Structural Analysis, McGraw Hill 1997). His research specialties include continuum mechanics, structures, dynamics, and orbital mechanics.

Affiliations and Expertise

Professor Emeritus, Aerospace Engineering, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Florida, USA