Participant's Guide

  Welcome to Basics of Space Flight. The authors hope you'll enjoy and benefit from using this document. At the end, you'll be offered a certificate of completion that you can fill out and give your supervisor for inclusion in your training record.


Quizzes help you solidify new knowledge and evaluate your own progress, but you may skip them if you wish. Selecting "CHECK ANSWERS..." scores the quiz based on the number of correct versus possible selections in the quiz. No records are kept.


Some images can display animation if you click them. The large animated .gif file won't download until you click. To load and start an animation, click the image. To stop it, click it again.

Navigating Around

"NEXT PAGE" will take you through the whole document, including quizzes. "PRECEDING PAGE" skips over any quiz or score pages, to the last text page. This may be different from where your browser's "BACK" button takes you.

The Table of Contents appears on each page so you may select any chapter. To see all the topics in all the chapters, select "INDEX" from the menu bar.

The "SEARCH BSF" function, located in the bottom section of every page, lets you search through the whole Basics of Space Flight (BSF) document for any word or string of text. It is not case-sensitive. The "Search JPL" box at the top of each page lets you search all JPL websites.

Clicking on the banner image at the top of any page brings you to paragraphs on the Editorial page explaining the banner images.

Introducing Abbreviations

Except units of measure, abbreviated terms are spelled out the first time they are used. Thereafter, the abbreviations are generally used alone. They can all be found in the Glossary.

Units of Measure

Throughout this website, measurements are expressed in SI, the International System of Units (the modern metric system of measurement). You will find them all explained, along with a table of metric to English conversions, on the Units of Measure page, linked from the Menu Bar at the bottom section of each page.


When you encounter an abbreviation or word you don't understand, select "GLOSSARY" from the bottom menu bar. Then use your browser's "FIND" capability to locate the word. You should also have access to an English dictionary for words and abbreviations not listed in the Glossary or Units of Measure.

Throughout the text, important new words and phrases are underlined as they are introduced. Most of these are also listed in the glossary.

Editorial Page

Editorial notes on the original document, the updates, the authors, acknowledgements, image credits, honors received, etc. appear on the EDITORIAL PAGE linked only from the front page. There, you'll also find information on how to contact the author and the webmaster. Feedback to the author from readers is especially welcome. Be sure to let us know if you encounter any errors or broken links. Note: the "FEEDBACK" link at the bottom of the front page goes to the general JPL web administration, rather than directly to the Basics of Space Flight author.

previous page PRECEDING PAGE   |   NEXT PAGE next page

Skip Navigation

1 The Solar System
2 Reference Systems
3 Gravity & Mechanics
4 Trajectories
5 Planetary Orbits
6 Electromagnetics

7 Mission Inception
8 Experiments
9 S/C Classification
10 Telecommunications
11 Onboard Systems
12 Science Instruments
13 Navigation

14 Launch
15 Cruise
16 Encounter
17 Extended Operations
18 Deep Space Network