Mike Gruntman's
Blazing the Trail. The Early History of Spacecraft and Rocketry

The winner of the Luigi Napolitano Book Award (2006) from the International Academy of Astronautics

Mike Gruntman
Blazing the Trail:
The Early History of Spacecraft and Rocketry

AIAA, Reston, Va., 2004
ISBN 1-56347-705-X
ISBN  978-1-56347-705-8
(List price $39.95)

475 pages with 340 figures
Index: 2750+ entries, including 650 individuals


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Table of Contents (detailed)

List of figures

Preface - describes book's scope

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About the Book

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.

This world-encompassing view of the realization of the space age reflects the author's truly unique personal experience, a life journey from a child growing on the Tyuratam ballistic missile launch base in the 1950s and early 1960s, to an accomplished space physicist and engineer to the founding director of a major U.S. nationally recognized program in space engineering in the heart of the American space industry. 

Most publications on the topic either target narrow aspects of rocket and spacecraft history or are popular books that scratch the surface, with minimal and sometimes inaccurate technical details. This book bridges the gap. 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. (See detailed Table of ContentsThere are 340 figures and photographs, many appearing for the first time.

About the Author

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 (see Space Education). He was the first (founding) Chairman (2004–2007) of the Astronautics and Space Technology Division in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. Today, it is the Department of Astronautical Engineering(ASTE). Gruntman is involved in a number of R&D programs in space science and technology; he is Co-Investigator on NASA's current space missions TWINS and IBEX. He authored and co-authored more than 200 publications in the areas of astronautics, space physics, space technology, space sensors, scientific instrumentation, astronautical education, and space and rocket history.

Sputnik 1         Explorer 1        Vanguard 1

"Vital Statistics" of Blazing the Trail (courtesy of Amazon)

Flesh-Kincaid Index:    12.1
            69% of books are easier to read than Blazing the Trail
            31% of books are harder to read than Blazing the Trail

Book preview

Complex Words:           22%
                                  (A word is considered "complex" if it has three or more syllables.)
            83% of books have a smaller percentage of complex words than Blazing the Trail
            17% of books have a larger percentage of complex words than Blazing the Trail

Words per Sentence:    15.8
            47% of books have fewer words per sentence than Blazing the Trail
            53% of books have more words per sentence than Blazing the Trail

Total Number of Characters:        1,038,111
            91% of books have fewer characters than Blazing the Trail
             9% of books have more characters than Blazing the Trail

Total Number of Words:                151,546
            90% of books have fewer words than Blazing the Trail
             10% of books have more words than Blazing the Trail

Total Number of Sentences:            9,605
            88% of books have fewer sentences than Blazing the Trail
             12% of books have more sentences than Blazing the Trail

Words per Dollar:                    2,906

Words per Ounce:                   3,444

Spy at USC


Lecture (Webcast)  –  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.
You can freely download the video ( 390 MB) and slides (pdf) of the presentation on your computer.
Iafastro posted the entire lecture on YouTube as one video clip.

Video clips:   Space Mission Design and Spacecraft Design

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

Webcast:  Space: From Firecrackers to Interstellar Flight

Part 1 (87 min): The First Thousand Years
Part 2 (84 min): Space in 21st Century

Mike's books

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