and Spacecraft
Books on
and Space
Books on
History of
Blazing the Trail:
The Early History
of Spacecraft
and Rocketry
Neutral Atoms
in Space
History Videos

Mike Gruntman 's web site on Astronautics, Spacecraft Design, Space Technology, and History of Astronautics

Mike's books books by mike gruntman
videos by mike gruntmanMike's videos
Mike's short courses





USC Viterbi School of Engineering - News (Nov 2009)

Master of Science in Astronautical Engineering (MS ASTE)

The History of Spaceflight, in The New SMAD The New SMAD

From Firecrackers to Interstellar FlightSpace:  From Firecrackers to Interstellar Flight   (webcast)
Part 1. The First Thousand Years. (71 min)
Part 2.  Space in 21st Century. (78 min)

Yuri A. Gagarin

Socks for the First Cosmonaut of Planet Earth gruntman quest socks for cosmonaut

The Cosmos of the Russian Avante-Garde

Satellite Launch by North Korea in 2012 (18 min)

USC Astronauts

Elite Space Club

Short courses - space systems and space missions

Ary Sternfeld. A Forgotten Space Pioneer. (25 min)

Enemy Amongst Trojans. A Spy at USC

USC Master of Science in Astronautical Engineering: Overview (53 min)

U.S. National Space Policy, 2010

U.S. National Security Space Policy, 2011

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden (left) at the 49th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting in Orlando, Fla.;
Mike Gruntman is on the right. January 5, 2011. (How to get the T-shirt. )

 The true story ...
Now it can be told

Lecture  –  1 hr 10 min
The Road to Space. The First Thousand Years.

Fifty years ago in October of 1957, the first artificial satellite of the Earth was launched into space.
The lecture focuses on the history of the events that led us to the space age.
The video (in high-resolution) can be downloaded to your computer.

GPS - Global Positioning System


Robert Esnault-Pelterie and Astronautics

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics AIAA - history

videos on orbital mechanics and space mission design Videos  –  space mission design and spacecraft design

Video clips of interest to space mission design and to spacecraft design.

Astronautics and Spacecraft Design

Mike Gruntman launched this web site on Astronautics and Spacecraft Design on 12 April 1996. The site, also known under the old URL astromike, provides technical information for scientists, engineers, students, space writers, and space enthusiasts. The web site was highlighted in Physics Today and listed as the site of the week by SpaceViews. The total number of visitors exceeded 300,000 in the early 2007. Mike teaches the largest graduate class (100+ graduate students) in spacecraft design in the U.S. and his students also frequently use the site. The site was moved to the new host at in April 2005.

Books on Astronautics, Spacecraft, and Space Technology

The site provides a list of recommended technical books (textbooks and monographs) in various areas of astronautics, space missions, spacecraft design, and space technology.

Books on History of Astronautics, Rockets, and Space

The site provides a list of recommended important books on history of astronautics and space technology.

Blazing the Trail: The Early History of Spacecraft and Rocketry, 2004

In 2004, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)
published Mike Gruntman's
Blazing the Trail: The Early History of Spacecraft and Rocketry.

The book received the Luigi Napolitano Award (2006) from the International Academy of Astronautics.

   Book preview

This book presents the fascinating story of the events that paved the way to space. It introduces the reader to the history of early rocketry and the subsequent developments which led into the space age. People of various nations and from various lands contributed to the breakthrough to space, and the book takes the reader to far away places on five continents.

It is a one-stop source of numerous technical details usually unavailable in popular publications. (
A prominent historian described the book as “an encyclopedic history of rocketry” that “provides for the first time a modern, comprehensive overview of the subject” and “offers the best discussions available about some of the key breakthroughs…”  ) The details are not overbearing and anyone interested in rocketry and space exploration will navigate through the book without difficulty. The book also includes many quotes to give readers a flavor of how the participants viewed the developments. There are 340 figures and photographs, many appearing for the first time. The site presents book details.

Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX)

From Astronautics to Cosmonautics, 2007

84 pages with 24 photos; 75 references

Nominated (2008) for Emme Award (American Astronautical Society)

Book preview

Two pioneers of space exploration, Robert Esnault-Pelterie and Ary Sternfeld, introduced the words astronautics and cosmonautics, respectively, into the scientific language. The origin of the term astronautics is well documented. In contrast, the history of the word cosmonautics remains poorly known. Ary Sternfeld is also largely forgotten. The fiftieth anniversary of the breakthrough to space, celebrated in 2007, makes it especially appropriate to remember those visionaries who paved the way to cosmos. The book tells the stories of astronautics and cosmonautics and describes life journeys of space pioneers Robert Esnault-Pelterie and Ary Sternfeld.


Enemy Amongst Trojans. A Soviet Spy at USC, 2010

88 pages with 12 photos; 94references

Book preview

A part-time instructor in the University of Southern California (USC) vanished from a California beach in 1945. Several years later the U.S. Congress described him as an important Soviet spy whose true identity remained a mystery. The recently declassified documents and publications bring to light many details of the events and reveal what happened to this rezident of the Soviet military intelligence in Los Angeles.
The story includes defection of a Soviet code clerk in Canada, the recruitment of agents by the spy and his achievements as a USC student, fraudulent passports and the Spanish civil war, FBI investigation, and secret messages. The Soviet homeland did not treat well the spy on his return. In the end, the state-directed anti-Semitism has brought him to a point of leaving the country that he had served so loyally all his life. The book provides numerous bibliographic references and quotes contemporary documents

Interestngly, the spy at USC was of the same type (illegal) as ten deep penetration Russian spies busted by the FBI in 2010.




Space Education

Mike Gruntman is the founder of the Astronautics Program at the University of Southern California (USC). The program offers Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Science (Minor), Master of Science, Engineer, and PhD degrees and Graduate Certificate in astronautical engineering. The program was reorganized in 2004 as a new independent academic unit, operating as a department, in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering (VSOE). (This is a unique event in space education in the United States - new departments are created very rarely.) Since 2010, it is the Department of Astronatical Engineering . Mike served as the founding chairman, 2004-2007, of the new department and guided its spectacular growth. Mission accomplished! The journey continues – Ad Astra!


The focus of the Department is spacecraft engineering. Mike continues to direct its Master of Science degree progarm which is also available through VSOE's Distance Education Network nation-wide. The program awards almost 40 Master's degrees annually (see statistics). Almost 1100 graduate students enrolled into the Mike's course on spacecraft design during the last ten years. Mike's instructional videos on space missions and orbital mechanics are popular among students and space specialists. The number of views of his videos on Youtube is approaching one million. 


The site provides publications on space education in the United States. The recent AIAA paper calls for major structural changes in the U.S. education in astronautical engineering.

Energetic Neutral Atoms (ENA) in Space

Measurement of energetic neutral atoms (ENA) in space has emerged as a powerful tool to remotely probe hot plasmas and populations of energetic ions such as planetary magnetospheres and the interstellar boundary of the heliosphere. The original ENA experimental concept was followed by 20 years of development of enabling instrumentation to overcome measurement challenges. Mike Gruntman played a leading role in this development. NASA's IMAGE mission successfully demonstrated the instrumentation and the power of the experimental concept by imaging Earth's magnetosphere. Cassini images the magnetosphere of Saturn in ENA fluxes. Two ENA imagers are launched in 2007 and 2008 on the NASA TWINS mission to conduct, for the first time, stereoscopic imaging of the Earth magnetosphere, while IBEX (launch 2008) will probe the solar system galactic frontier in ENA fluxes.  

Solar System Galactic Frontier

Mike Gruntman's scientific interests include the solar system galactic frontier. This region where the expanding solar wind meets the surrounding galactic medium remains poorly explored. Mike is co-investigator on the NASA mission Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) launched in October 2008. It took 25 years from the original vague concept to the space mission. The site presents several key publications on the concept of probing the solar system frontier (1) remotely through imaging in fluxes of energetic neutral atoms and extreme ultraviolet photons and (2) with an interstellar mission.

Mike Gruntman

Mike Gruntman is professor of astronautics and professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Southern California (USC) and the founding director of the USC Astronautics Program focusing on degrees in space engineering. He was honored to serve the first (founding) Chairman (2004–2007) of a new academic unit focused on space engineering, now the Department of Astronautical Engineering , in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering . Gruntman is involved in a number of R&D programs in space science and technology; he is co-investigator in the current NASA missions TWINS and IBEX. He authored and co-authored more than 200 publications – including three books – in the areas of astronautics, space physics, space technology, scientific instrumentation, space sensors, space and rocket history, and astronautical education.


Various events, documents, and publications related (and very few unrelated) to history of spacecraft and rocketry.

Privacy policy.            Copyright © 2005–2013 by Mike Gruntman. All rights reserved.