Interplanetary Flight: An Introduction to Astronautics

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Interplanetary Flight: An Introduction to Astronautics
First edition
AuthorArthur C. Clarke
CountryUnited Kingdom
Publication date
1950 (1950)

Interplanetary Flight: An Introduction to Astronautics[1] is a short, modestly technical introduction to space exploration written by Arthur C. Clarke, and published in 1950. It includes material accessible to readers with a high-school level of science and technical education, covering the elements of orbital mechanics, rocket design and performance, various applications of Earth satellites, a discussion of the more interesting and accessible destinations in the Solar System (such as they were understood at the time of writing), and in a final chapter covering the rationale and value of human expansion off the Earth.


The book includes ten chapters:

  • Historical Survey
  • The Earth's Gravitational Field
  • The Rocket
  • The Problem of Escape by Rocket
  • The Earth-Moon Journey
  • Interplanetary Flight
  • The Atomic Rocket
  • Spaceships and Space Stations
  • Subsidiary Problems
  • Opening Frontiers

A short mathematical appendix is provided (for the benefit of readers not versed in the calculus), plus a bibliography and index, for a total of 164 pages. It includes also many figures and diagrams, and 15 plates (now largely of historical interest, showing how far space exploration has advanced since 1950).


  1. ^ Interplanetary Flight: An Introduction to Astronautics. London: Temple Press, 1950