Rocket Science For Amateurs

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Rocket Science for Amateurs (RSFA)[edit]

Martin Schweiger's Orbiter is about fun, and about learning.

The Orbiter Forum is a great place to enhance the fun, and this Orbiter Wiki is a great place to learn. RSFA can provide some guidance for those who would like a little organization in their quest to learn something about rocket science.

Our target audience is anyone who isn’t a professional rocket scientist. That probably includes you!

Especially, we hope to reach people who aren’t any kind of scientist, even those who might have hated science or mathematics in school, and who wouldn’t ordinarily care about those subjects, but are nonetheless interested in rockets and space flight. Maybe you once wanted to be an astronaut, cosmonaut, or taikonaut.

Why amateur? Throughout the history of most sciences, significant contributions have been made by amateurs. Some now-formal sciences were built from the less-rigorous results of amateurs. The term doesn’t mean someone who isn’t serious about the subject, merely that they don’t make their living at it. (And it certainly doesn't mean Dummies!)

Our scope is rocket science, in the broadest sense. In the narrow sense, the term is a synonym for aerospace engineering: the collection of disciplines needed to design, build and launch rockets into space: the How of getting there. For our purposes, it also includes the reasons for going to space, designing missions and destinations (the Why), What to do once the capabilities have been developed, and Having Fun along the way. The advantage of taking the amateur stance is that we aren’t constrained by politics, budgets, or even the state-of-the-art. If we are fantasizing, we can eliminate any kind of constraint we want, as long as we can simulate it. Why not assume colonies on Mars, and organize tours to them? Use your imagination.

You can tailor your path to becoming an amateur rocket scientist, emphasizing those aspects that most interest you at any time. A few starting points you might consider:


There are many other paths through RSFA. For a (brief) description of our approach, see our approach to the material.

It would be a good idea to add some notes about the organization of the RSFA material, but so far it isn't organized enough.