In all, the European Space Agency (ESA) has developed 60 spacecrafts over the last few decades. Some of these, such as the ERS satellites and Envisat, are dedicated to monitoring the Earthand providing vital data on the health status of our planet. Other spacecraft have helped to improve the accuracy of weather forecasting. Galileo, the joint ESA/EU satellite navigation p- gramme, demonstrates the political dimension of space as service-provider for the bene?t of European citizens. While these missions involve utilitarian space activities, others are devoted to either exploring the solar system, - cluding the Sun, or achieving a better understanding of the Universe and the cosmic beginnings. Theorbitsofthesesatellitescoverawiderange(Sun-synchronous,geos- tionary, highly eccentric, at Lagrange points, etc.) so that a complete novice may be astonished when tackling the space technology ?eld. The main credit of Michel Capderou's book is to take the reader (whether it be a student, an engineer or a research scientist) progressively from the basic Kepler laws to the most complex equations of space mechanics. His educational concern has led him to propose many examples and graphicalillustrations from ESA, but alsofromthe American,Russian,Indian,Japaneseor evenChinese space agencies. These programmes provide scienti?c insights and moreover appear to fascinate the general public, in particular the younger generation. Those wishing to understand the orbital mechanisms behind these programmes will ?nd the explanations they seek in this book.
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