Note that most of these are out of print, but can be obtain from places like One might also explore the possibility of an inter-library loan.


The list is organized alphabetically by the author's (or authors') last name where possible.


Fundamentals of Astrodynamics.
Bate, Roger R, Dover, 1971, ISBN: 0486600610. This has more than you probably need to know about orbital mechanics, and is rough going if you are weak in calculus. But it is certainly comprehensive. Textbook quality book. If you want a book that is easier to read (but much more expensive) try Introduction to Space Flight
Realities of Space Travel: Selected Papers of the British Interplanetary Society
Carter J. L. ed., McGraw-Hill, 1957. A bit dated, but still contains hard data on orbital optimization, atomic spacecraft propulsion, life support considerations, and more. Textbook quality book.
Interplanetary Flight An Introduction to Astronautics
Clarke, Sir Arthur C., L. Harper & Brothers, Publishers 1951. This covers most of the issues of space flight, easy to read, but with many of the vital equations listed in the back.
Nuclear Propulsion for Space
Corliss, William R, Oak Ridge Atomic Energy Commission 1969
Propulsion Systems for Space Flight
Corliss, William R, McGraw Hill, 1960. A little dated, but it has tons and tons of useful equations. It does cover most propulsion systems, and has some data on spacecraft power systems. Textbook quality book.
Project Orion: the true story of the atomic spaceship
Dyson, George, Henry Hoult and Company, 2002. An in-depth look at the history of old Boom-boom, the nuclear bomb powered rocket. It has interesting details as to performance, and diagrams which are useful for other spacecraft designs.


HIGH Frontier
Eklund, Philip, Sierra Madre Games. A cardboard and paper wargame with exceedingly accurate spacecraft propulsion information and a clever way to calculate the delta-V required for various mission in the Solar system. Do not miss the first expansion pack(more details here, here, here, and here)
Spaceship Handbook
Hagerty, Jack & Rogers, Jon C., ARA Press, 2001, ISBN 0-9707604-0-X. The first part has an entertaining survey of spacecraft from the fictional Tom Corbett TV series to actual early NASA designs, along with incredibly precise blue-prints. But the technical appendix on Atomic Powered spacecraft is worth the price of the book all by itself. The appendix gives the essential propulsion equations, and does a survey of propulsion systems available and on the drawing boards, with hard figures. The end of the appendix contains an extensive table of deltaV requirements for all mission types for the planets and major moons of the solar system. Textbook quality book.
The Saucer Fleet
Hagerty, Jack & Rogers, Jon C., Apogee Books, 2008, ISBN 978-1894959-70-4. This is a companion volume for Spaceship Handbook, covering flying saucers from movies and TV. It also contains incredibly precise blue-prints, plus engineer notes on discrepancies between the ship exteriors and the interior sets. The sociological impact of the various movies is discussed, along with speculations on possible scientific principles involved. Textbook quality book.
Introduction to Space Flight
Hale, Francis, Pearson Education, 1998, ISBN 0134819128 This is a massive textbook, about one notch below the SMAD. Only $90 instead of $200, it can be found used for about $60. I have been told that it is far easier to read than Fundamentals of Astrodynamics and that it covers gravitational assist trajectories that Astrodynamics does not. However, Astrodynamics is only $16.
BEAM WEAPONS The Next Arms Race.
Hecht, Jeff, iUniverse Incorporated, 2000, ISBN 0595094503 A good overview of the state of the (unclassified) art in the field of laser and particle beam weapons in 1984. Lots of photos and diagrams, and even a few equations. There is also some interesting histories of various US Defense Department projects.
Space Propulsion Analysis and Design
Humble, Ronald W., Henry, Gary N., Larson, Wiley J. , McGraw Hill, 1995, ISBN 0-07-031320-2. This book has it all. Extensive up to date information of chemical, nuclear, and electric propulsion systems, with details and equations to do system analysis and optimization. If you can only get one book, you won't go far wrong if you get this one. Textbook quality book.


A Heat Transfer Textbook.
Lienhard, John H. A textbook on thermodynamics for engineers, may be downloaded for free.
The Starflight Handbook: a pioneer's guide to interstellar travel
Mallove,Eugene, & Gregory Matloff, Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, John, 1989, ISBN: 0471619124. The focus here is on interstellar instead of interplanetary propulsion, but it still has important hard data and the obligatory vital equations.
The Dream Machines: An Illustrated History of the Spaceship in Art, Science and Literature
Miller, Ron, Krieger Publishing Company, 1992, ISBN: 0894640399. This is the most comprehensive history of spacecraft design concepts published to date. Tons of illustrations. Pricy, though.
Space Warfare and Strategic Defense
Pahl, David, Bison Books Corp, 1987, ISBN 0-671-08925-0. Contains information about space weapons in general and the Strategic Defense Initiative in specific.
The Science of Aliens
Pickover, Clifford, Basic Books, 1999, ISBN 0465073158. Written by an actual live scientist, this book goes into scientific detail about what aliens might be like. Very readable.
How Do You Go to the Bathroom in Space?
Pogue, William R., Tor Books, 1991. Details on what it is like to live and work in space.
A Step Farther Out
Pournelle, Jerry, ACE, 1980, ISBN:0-441-78585-9. This is a collection of science essays, but it includes very lucid descriptions of the problems of space flight, and has vital equations.
Rocket to the Moon
LIFE magazine January 17, 1949 The article that provided the look for the space suits and space craft for the Tom Corbett TV series and novels.


The Millennial Project: Colonizing the Galaxy in Eight Easy Steps
Savage, Marshall T., Little, Brown, & Co. 1994, ISBN 0-316-77163-5. A tour de force book, it contains important data about life support and space colonization.
Aliens and Alien Societies
Schmidt, Stanley, Writer's Digest Books, 1995, ISBN 0-89879-706-3. The focus is on science fiction writer desiring some scientific accuracy in their space aliens. Very readable but loaded with great information.
Space Mission Analysis and Design.
Wertz, James R. and Larson, Wiley J., Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999, ISBN 0792359011. Known as SMAD in the astronautics trade, this is the book the pros use. The drawback is that the book over $200. The advantage is that if it isn't in this book, it doesn't matter. It really does have it all. Textbook quality book.


The list is organized alphabetically by the author's (or authors') last name where possible.


"Retreat to the Stars"
Brackett, Leigh, 1941. Collected in ADVENTURES IN TOMORROW. Rebels escape from a totalitarian regime into a secret asteroid stronghold, for a desperate bid for freedom.
Islands in the Sky
Clarke, Sir Arthur C., Signet New York 1987. Details daily life in a space station. Very similar to Heinlein's Space Cadet
The Other Side of the Sky
Clarke, Sir Arthur C., Signet New York 1987. Details the building of the first space station and the first expedition to the Moon.
Passage at Arms
Cook, Glen, Popular Library/Questar, 1985, ISBN: 0445200065.Shows life on a military starship. It is sort of like Das Boat in outer space.
Contraband Rocket
Correy, Lee (alias of G. Harry Stine), Ace Double D-146, 1955. Has fascinating details about refurbishing an obsolete atomic rocket. And what it is like to use it to travel to the Moon, while it gradually falls apart around you.
Space Doctor
Correy, Lee (alias of G. Harry Stine), 1985. The adventures of the first microgravity space doctor in a project to build the first orbital solar power satellite. Contains a good description of what it is like to wait out a solar storm in a station's radiation storm cellar.
del Rey, Lester, 1939, Collected in EARLY DEL REY. A short story about a rocket race. Inspiration for the Meteoris.
"Lunar Landing"
del Rey, Lester, 1942, Collected in EARLY DEL REY. A short story about the second landing on the Moon with an atomic rocket.
Moon of Mutiny
del Rey, Lester, Ballantine 1961. A boy washed out from the Space Academy is assigned to fly an emergency mission to the Moon.
Rocket Jockey
del Rey, Lester, Ballantine 1952. An extended novel about a rocket race.


"The Cold Equations"
Godwin, Tom, 1954. Collected in THE SCIENCE FICTION HALL OF FAME, VOLUME I. This story caused an uproar when it first came out. As Dr. Feynman observed about the Challenger disaster, "Nature cannot be fooled." If the equations say that your spacecraft does not have enough fuel, they don't mean "maybe."
Farmer in the Sky
Heinlein, Robert, Ballantine, 1950. The adventures of a young immigrant to a terraformed Ganymede. The shipboard sequences are of interest.
Have Space Suit, Will Travel
Heinlein, Robert, Ace 1958. The novel goes into some details about the equipment and features of a standard space suit.
Heinlein, Robert, 1939. Collected in THE GREAT SF STORIES 1 and THE PAST THROUGH TOMORROW. Good info on shipboard life and working in free fall.
"Ordeal in Space"
Heinlein, Robert, 1948, Collected in THE GREEN HILLS OF EARTH and THE PAST THROUGH TOMORROW. Describes the trials and tribulations of a spaceman on the outside of a rotating spacecraft.
Podkayne of Mars
Heinlein, Robert, 1963. Has a good description of what it is like to wait out a solar storm in the radiation storm cellar of a passenger liner spacecraft.
Rocket Ship Galileo
Heinlein, Robert, Ballantine, 1977. A junior rocket club builds the first moon rocket with help from an atomic scientist. Please, give it a chance, it is much better than it sounds.
"Sky Lift"
Heinlein, Robert, 1953, Collected in THE MENACE FROM EARTH. A story about an emergency run to Pluto. Nine days at three point five Gees. Ouch.
Space Cadet
Heinlein, Robert, Ace 1948. Details the training of a cadet in the Space Navy, the technical details are accurate, as are most Heinlein novels.
"Space Jockey"
Heinlein, Robert, 1947, Collected in THE GREEN HILLS OF EARTH and THE PAST THROUGH TOMORROW. An account of the daily life of a rocket pilot.
"The Green Hills of Earth"
Heinlein, Robert, 1947, Collected in THE GREEN HILLS OF EARTH and THE PAST THROUGH TOMORROW. Contains fascinating details about working in the engine room of an atomic rocket.
The Rolling Stones
Heinlein, Robert, Ace 1952. A brilliant but eccentric family seeks their fortune among the rock rats in the Asteroid belt. Has tons of detail about atomic rockets: propulsion, life support, navigation, and more. Be sure to check out Steven Ouellette's marvelous Orbiter add-on that emulates the Rolling Stone.


Bullard of the Space Patrol
Jameson, Malcolm, The World Publishing Company, 1951. The adventures of John Bullard as he rises through the ranks of the Space Patrol.
The Humanist Inheritance
Lineberger, Matthew , 2006. A hard science fiction story that was inspired by the Atomic Rocket website. The creation of good stuff like this is why I made this site in the first place. Check it out!
"The Mauki Chant"
Meyer, J. A., Astounding magazine, June 1951. An asteroid war short story. The background was borrowed by Alan E. Nourse for his Raiders From the Rings.
Star Rangers (aka The Last Planet)
Norton, Andre, Fawcett Crest 1953. Also collected in the omnibus volume Star Soldiers. Adventures of the Patrol during the decline and fall of the Galactic Empire. This book should be made into a movie. The ending is haunting yet uplifting.
The Stars Are Ours!
Norton, Andre, Ace 1963. Fleeing persecution from a fundamentalist Luddite regime, practioners of the outlawed art called "Science" attempt to build a spaceship to escape to the stars.
Raiders From the Rings
Nourse, Alan E., Pyramid Books 1963. An asteroid war novel. Interesting background, and a strong "sense of wonder."
Exiles to Glory
Pournelle, Jerry, Ace, 1978. A semi-sequel to High Justice. An outcast from a decadent Earth finds opportunity in the asteroid colonies.
High Justice
Pournelle, Jerry, Pocket Books, 1977. The story of a visionary corporation attempting to expand into space despite sabotage from decadent governments. Includes the story "Tinker", with a cameo appearance by the Pilgrim Observer in the role of the Boostship Agamemnon.


The Tom Corbett: Space Cadet series
Rockwell, Cary, Grosset & Dunlap.
  1. STAND BY FOR MARS (1952)
  4. SPACE PIONEERS (1954)
  5. REVOLT ON VENUS (1954)
  8. ROBOT ROCKET (1955)
Galactic Patrol
Smith, E.E. "Doc", Pyramid Books 1937. The first book in the classic "Lensman" series. If you haven't read them yet, you owe it to yourself to get copies. The writing might be stilted, but whenever you encounter a fascinating gadget in science fiction, nine times out of ten Doc Smith invented it back in the 1930's. This includes tractor beams, FTL travel, force fields, and virtual reality.
Silent Galaxy
Tedford, William, Leisure Books, 1981.Exciting space combat, but with plenty of hard science. All of Tedford's four novels are worth reading.
The Outcasts of Heaven's Belt
Vinge, Joan. Collected in Heaven Chronicles, Warner Books, 1991. Arguably the best asteroid civilization novel ever written.
Lifeboat AKA Dark Inferno
White, James, Ballantine, 1972. A facinating story of a nuclear thermal rocket undergoing a disaster large enough to force evacuation in lifeboats. Lots of interesting technical details.
Whited, Garon, Xlibris, 2007. A scientifically accurate saga of the crew of a lunar colony after all human beings on Terra are exterminated by a global thermonuclear war. Contains many details of interest to budding young spacecraft designers. Recommended.
The Legion of Space
Williamson, Jack, Pyramid, 1951. Also collected in the omnibus volume Three From the Legion. The stirring saga of the noble heroes of the Legion of Space.



A boardgame is a game played with a paper map and cardboard playing pieces. A Role Playing Game (RPG) is a printed book containing the game rules. A Computer Game is (like you'd expect) a game played on a personal computer.


Attack Vector: Tactical
(Boardgame) Burnside, Ken; Ad Astra Games 2002 Get this game. Play a few games and you have first hand knowledge of deep space maneuvers and combat. In three dimensions, no less. The clever play aids do all the scary math for you, and keep track of the three dimensional firing arcs. Unbelievably the game is relatively simple to play. The movement is based on Newtonian physics, and both propulsion system plus weapon systems are scientifically accurate.
GURPS Space, fourth edition
(RPG) Zeigler, Jon F. and Cambias, James L. ; Steve Jackson Games, Incorporated, 2006, ISBN 1-55634-245-4. Contains valuable information for anybody designing a scienc fiction universe. Astronomy, rocketry, biology, technology, there is a lot of meat here. This is a great book to quickly get an author up to speed on the science behind science fiction.
GURPS Traveller: Far Trader
(RPG) Daniels, Steve, MacLean, Daniels, Thrash, Christopher; Steve Jackson Games, Incorporated, 2003, ISBN 1-55634-373-6. Written with help from a real live economist, this allows one to model interplanetary and interstellar trade with equations and everything
GURPS Traveller: Starships
(RPG) Bont, Thomas L., Prior, Robert, Thrash, Christopher; Steve Jackson Games, Incorporated, 2003, ISBN: 1556344759. Yes, this is a supplement for a role-playing game, but it has enough scientific meat to be worth looking over.
High Frontier
Eklund, Philip, Sierra Madre Games. A cardboard and paper wargame with exceedingly accurate spacecraft propulsion information and a clever way to calculate the delta-V required for various mission in the Solar system. Do not miss the expansion pack(more details here, here, here, and here)
Independence War
(Computer game: Windows) Particle Systems 1998 Out of print. This game really gives you an education in both Newtonian physics and thinking in three dimensions. The Heads-Up display is quite functional, and will spark your own ideas. Science-fantasy would have you believe that spacecraft maneuver like World War II fighter planes. Independence War pounds reality into your head: spacecraft maneuver like an overloaded 18-wheeler on a road covered in black ice.
Independence War II: Edge of Chaos
(Computer game: Windows) Particle Systems 2002 A sequel to Independence War, with more features and a less scripted plot-line.


(Computer game: Windows) Windows software that accurately simulates spacefight through the solar system. There is a thriving community who are producing plug-ins and add-ons for Orbiter. Steven Ouellette has created an add-on that duplicates the Rolling Stone from the Heinlein novel of the same name.
Rocket Flight
(Boardgame) Eklund, Philip M.; Sierra Madre Games Co. 1995 Out of print. This game simulates the commercial developement of the Solar system. The list of propulsion systems is quite accurate. Most interestingly is how the map is gridded in deltaV increments instead of distance. The game is worth finding for the propulsion system list alone, the economic development model is also valuable. The game is out of print, but the designer has made an updated version called High Frontier.
Ships of the Jovian Confederation, Vol. 2
(RPG) Boulle, Philippe; Dream Pod 9 1992, ISBN 1-896776-45-0. A refererence book that contains stunningly scientifically accurate spacecraft designs.
Spaceship Zero RPG
(RPG) Atkinson, Toren and Banks, Warren; Green Ronin Publishing 2002, ISBN 0971438099. A fabulous role-playing game based on the 1970s German TV series of the same name. This really captures the flavor of the 1950's rocket TV shows, with pulpy aliens and all. The designer admits to consulting with an astronautical engineer for help with the technical aspects. And one of their players used information from the Atomic Rocket website to calculate rocket performance for their campaign.
Star Fist
(Boardgame) Jackson, Steve; Steve Jackson Games (1991) Out of print. This game is based on the Triplanetary system, and includes an innovative rule for "tractor beams".
Star Hero
(RPG) Cambias, James L.; Hero Games, Incorporated, ISBN 1-58366-007-0. Another valuable sourcebook for anybody designing a science fiction universe. From stellar dynamics to types of interstellar governments, this book belongs on the shelf of serious SF authors. This is also a great book to quickly get an author up to speed on the science behind science fiction.
(Boardgame) Harshman, John and Miller, Marc W.; GDW (Game Designers Workshop) 1973 Out of print. Playing this game will really give one an intuitive feel for Newtonian physics. The game is long out of print, but one can find the map and rulebook here and images of the counter here.
(Boardgame) Oines, Charles ; Irrational Designs 2006 Much like Triplanetary, playing this game will really give one an intuitive feel for Newtonian physics. The difference is that Voidstriker is still in print, and much more fun to play. It includes rules for reaction mass and an innovative action point system. Do check out the forum.

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