Basics of Space Flight
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Honors and Kudos We've Received logo

Dr. Matrix Science Excellence award

Star Award Griffith ObservatoryEducation Index Top Site award

STC Winner 1996 award

ZIA Reviewed logo

SpaceViews Space Site of the Week award

NetGuide 4 Stars award

New Scientist Planet Science logo

School Zone Educational Site 5 star award Links2Go Key Resource Award logo

Space Careers Space Site of the Week award

Stellar Link Award.  Go to

We're delighted to have received so many awards and testimonials for The Basics of Space Flight. It's our pleasure to share some of them with you on this page, along with a bit of the document's history.

How this Workbook Came to Be in the First Place . . .

To monitor and command interplanetary robotic spacecraft, JPL's mission controllers need to be grounded in fundamentals of physics and astronomy as relevant to space flight missions, and understand the basics of spacecraft design and mission life cycles. Before 1993, there was no single document that could point mission controllers toward even the spacecraft and mission basics for deep space missions, much less the physics and astronomy basics. So the operations training group (of what was then called the Mission Operations Section), calling on the considerable writing talents of David Doody, a veteran mission controller and amateur astronomer, and George Stephan, training engineer, developed a tutorial workbook with the specific objective of giving mission controllers a context for the task- and mission-specific training they would receive later. The result was the Basics of Space Flight Learners' Workbook, first published internally at JPL in August 1993.

. . . And How It Kinda Got Out of Hand . . .

The supervisor of the training group, Larry Bryant, recognizing the general educational value of the workbook, showed it to his daughter's science teacher at La Cañada High School near JPL. The teacher immediately adopted parts of it for use in his classes. The document was quickly cleared for public release, and now, over seven years later, interest in Basics continues to accelerate, as this World-wide Web version becomes internationally known and commended.

To summarize the various forms of dissemination and recognition Basics has enjoyed--

  • February 1994: Workbook is made available to JPL's Teacher Resource Center, with parts of it used in numerous schools to supplement science curricula.

  • April 1994: Workbook is available on the Web and is soon linked from JPL's public home page, as well as numerous other sites related to astronomy and space exploration.

  • June 1994: Basics is used by the Southern California Area Modern Physics Institute (SCAMPI), a National Science Foundation-funded program to upgrade physics teachers' training, with many of the teachers going on to use parts of it as classroom materials.

  • February 1995: The Operations Systems Training Group receives a NASA Group Achievement Award "in recognition of outstanding contributions to the educational community by developing educational materials that can capture the interest and imagination of the world's youth."

  • March 1995: The Workbook wins the Award of Merit in the 1994 Region 8 (California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Nevada, and Hawaii) Society for Technical Communication publication contest.

  • May 1996: Netguide magazine ("The #1 Guide to Everything on the Net") gives Basics of Space Flight Web site a four-star rating.

  • May 1996: The French Space Agency expresses plans to have Basics translated into French.

  • July 1996: Permission is given Basics of Space Flight to appear in the book Yahooligans: The Kid's Web Guide, published by IDG Books Worldwide, Inc.

  • October 1996: Lycos lists Basics of Space Flight in its top 5% of Web sites.

  • November 1996: Basics of Space Flight wins a SpaceViews "Space Site of the Week" award.

  • November 1996: Basics of Space Flight receives a ZIA Reviewed Site Award and is linked to ZIA, the family site.

  • December 1996: PC Computing includes Basics of Space Flight in its list of the top 1001 Web sites, only 8 of which were under the topic of Science/Aerospace!

  • January 1997: Basics of Space Flight wins the Award of Excellence in the World Wide Web Page competition sponsored by the Society for Technical Communication and administered by its Lone Star Chapter in Dallas, Texas.

  • March 1997: Basics of Space Flight is named one of the best education-related sites on the Web by The Education Index.

  • May 1997: Basics of Space Flight site is selected to receive the Griffith Observatory Star Award for the week of May 11-17 for excellence in promoting astronomy to the public through the World Wide Web.

  • June 1997: Basics of Space Flight is recognized with the Dr. Matrix Award for Science Excellence from "Dr. Matrix Weird Web World of Science." Sites receiving this award are distinguished by the quality of their content alone, if it serves the interests of discovery, mental enrichment and thoughtful enjoyment. Dr. Matrix says, "This award doesn't go to 'cool' sites. It goes to the great sites."

  • October 1998: Awarded a Snap Editors' Choice designation in recognition of its excellence in design, content and editorial presentation. Synopsis reads "[This] NASA training module is an excellent introduction to general space flight concepts and deep-space missions. The tutorial and detailed workbook are highly technical, but people with a grasp of scientific principles will have no problems."

  • August 1999: Selected as a "New Scientist magazine Hot Spots site in the space sciences.
  • July 2000: Awarded a Five Star rating by Schoolzone's panel of over 400 expert teachers. This is in recognition of the fact that it is an outstanding educational site: useful for teaching and learning and easy to navigate.
  • July 2000: Selected as a "Key Resource" in Astronomy and Space by Links2Go.
  • November 2000: Selected as an Honor Roll Site.
  • February 2001: Selected Space Site of the Week by Space Careers.
  • April 2001: "Stellar Link Award" for the week of April 8. This award recognizes the very best in astronomy and space related links. To receive the award, a site must be educational, informative, current, and nicely designed with compelling content.


And a few testimonials . . .

"Having just completed your excellent Basics of Space Flight course I wanted to take a moment and say thank you. I have greatly enjoyed the time spent working my way through your course, something I discovered by chance when following a link from the Astronomy Picture Of The Day website. My appreciation of what goes into a mission to space is greater because of what I've learned. I have also found benefit when watching DVD's purchased from Spaceflight Films as it is easier to follow at least some of the conversation between the flight crew and mission control. So, thanks again, and please keep up the good work!"

(from a reader in 2005)

"I just spent a very enjoyable night reading the entire contents of the Basics of Space Flight Learners' Workbook... The entire document is one of the best pieces of work I've encountered on the net, and was just a joy to read (I couldn't put down my workstation,' says happy WWW user!) I'll use it as an example of what a reference work should read like: Fun to read, to the point, packed full of information, and moves quickly. I only wish everything that was tossed onto my desk could be written so precisely."

(from an AOL subscriber)

"I just wanted to say that your Basics of Space Flight Learners' Workbook is very informative. I am currently enrolled in an entry level astronomy class. I was assigned a paper on space travel, and I did not understand well enough the subject to write an accurate and in depth paper. After reading through the workbook, I feel that I am much better informed. As an added bonus, I have become more interested in the subject matter. Your workbook is much better written and more informative than the text we are currently using. All in all, I'd like to commend, praise, and thank you for making such a resource available to the public. It has helped me tremendously."

(undergraduate student)

"I cannot thank you enough for offering this course over the internet. I am at present employed with the USAF as a civilian in the Milstar system. Everything I have read so far has been of great value in reviewing and expanding upon those areas we brushed upon while attending the initial space systems training. Again sir, thank you for filling the void."

(from a reader at a U.S. Air Force Base)

"I was looking for an explanation of one specific thing--the X-band. What it was used for and why, specifically relating to receiving antennas. Not only did I find that, in a real easy-to-digest form, I found a whole encyclopedia of space flight, something I wish I'd had when I first started writing about this stuff 20 years ago. Thanks. Please don't take it off the Web. Should be required reading for anyone in the field or writing about it. I really appreciate it."

(from a university Public Information Coordinator)

"What an excellent piece of work!!! It just completes my admiration of JPL... Thank you for your clear and lucid description of a very complex subject."

(from a reader in the U.K.)


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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