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In this section we will learn the basics of orbital geometry and the classical orbital elements commonly used to launch things into space and how we can use Python to perform these calculations.

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 Rocket Science Using Python

Learn the fundamental equations used in aerospace science using the Python programming language. In these Python tutorials, we will calculate the required variables needed to launch spacecraft into orbit around Earth or to a distant planet and then we will see how Python can be used to track the International Space Station (ISS). We will use Python to calculate the escape velocity for each planetary body and other fun rocket science projects.

 Web Scraping Current Two-Line Elements

For this tutorial we will learn how to use Python to scrape the web for the most current two-line element sets for various orbiting spacecraft. A two-line element is a data format that encodes a list of orbital elements of objects orbiting the Earth for any given moment in time. TLEs are commonly used as input for projecting the future orbital tracks. We will use Python to scrape our NORAD TLEs from As we will learn, fetching data from the web is pretty easy.

For this tutorial we will be using the Python programming language along with the BeautifulSoup and Requests libraries and the html5lib parser to scrape the web for the current TLE for the International Space Station. BeautifulSoup will be used to get data out of the HTML file that contains the two-line elements. It does this by building a tree out of the various elements on a web page and makes it easy to access these elements. The requests library makes it easier to handle HTML requests and we use the html5lib parser as it is more linient when dealing with poorly formatted HTML.

Johnathan Nicolosi - 13 Jan 2019

 Rocket Propulsion Using Python

In this tutorial we will focus on the fundamental elements of various rocket propulsion systems and learn how we can use the Python programming language to compute these elements. We will focus on the Ariane 5, Atlas V and Saturn V rocket engines. In our analysis we will consider both the liquid propellant rocket engines and solid propellant rocket boosters used in each of the rockets listed above.

We will begin with a brief discussion on the fundamental elements of rocket propulsion and then we will attempt to calculate these elements using Python. For starters, rocket propulsion is a class of jet propulsion that produces thrust by ejecting liquid or solid matter stored within the rocket, which is called the propellant.

Johnathan Nicolosi - 11 Jan 2019

 Rocket Comparison Using Python

Diameter vs Height In this tutorial, we will take a closer look at several past and present chemical rockets, using the Python programming language and the Matplotlib library to visualize the differences in size, mass and thrust of each rocket. We will compare the Ariane 5, Atlas V, Black Brant IV, Delta II, Delta IV, Falcon 9 and Saturn V rockets.

Before we begin programming we must collect data on each rocket, and for this purpose we will use Wikipedia to gather the necessary information. When measuring height and diameter, we will use the metric system as opposed to the imperial system (1 ft = 0.3048 m). Thrust will be measured in lbf (please note that in some cases we may need to convert from Newtons (N) or kilo Newtons (kN) to lbf (1.0 N = 0.2248089 lbf). Also note that we will only be using the thrust of the first stage rocket engine at sea level.

Johnathan Nicolosi - 08 Jan 2019

 How to Calculate Orbital Elements of a Spacecraft Using Python

International Space Station (source - NASA)
In this tutorial, I will introduce you to some basic rocket science equations and then show you how to calculate them using the Python programming language. In this tutorial I will be focusing on the International Space Station for our calculations. The results of our calculations can then be compared to those provided by the European Space Agency, NASA and the Heaven's Above websites.

The International Space Station, or ISS, is the largest orbiting space station ever built by man. It is the result of the combined efforts of several nations, over the course of several years to construct. It was initially launched into orbit on 20 November 1998. It orbits the Earth at an altitude of 370-460 km. It is approximately 109 meters wide, 74 meters long and 45 meters high, with a mass of approximately 925,335 pounds (419,725 kilograms). The ISS has a habitable volume of about 13,696 cubic feet (388 cubic meters), not including visiting vehicles. It has an orbital inclination of 51.6° and an orbital velocity of 7.6-7.7 km/s (around 27 500 km/h).

Johnathan Nicolosi - 30 Sep 2018