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Winner of the Luigi Napolitano Book Award (2006) from the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA)

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

475 pages with 340 figures

Index: 2750+ entries, including 650 individuals

   Book preview

Blazing the Trail - this page

Table of Contents (detailed)

List of figures

Preface - describes book's scope

Book reviews

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Blazing the Trail on Amazon

Recommended Books on History of Astronautics and Rocketry



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Blazing the Trail by Mike Gruntman Blazing the Trail - 1 page info (pdf)


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 Contents). There 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. He was the first (founding) Chairman (2004–2007) of the Department of Astronautical Engineering(ASTE) and served again as chairman from 2016-2019. Mike is involved in a number of research and development programs in space science and technology. He authored and co-authored more than 300 scholarly publications (including 4 books) in the areas of astronautics, space physics, space technology, space sensors, scientific instrumentation, astronautical education, and history of space, rocketry, and missile defense.


Sputnik 1    Explorer 1    Vanguard 1    Astronautics    Missile Defense    Baikonur Tyuratam    Saryshagan    Rocket equation    Rocket espionage


"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

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


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