Awesome Open Source
Awesome Open Source


A list I will add to as I think of more books to recommend, but here's a good beginning. FWIW, I try to only add books/papers I've read, but if you have a suggestion let me know and I'll pick it up!

I have Amazon and (usually) IndieBound links for all items that can be purchased. I'd really prefer to remove the overall dependence on Amazon but I understand that's not always feasible for folks and some books are more difficult to find. That said, I'm going to make an effort to prioritize non-Amazon booksellers when at all possible. I also have WorldCat links where applicable, and would highly recommend patronizing your local library! Finally, I have linked PDFs when applicable and try to clean up those links regularly. If you see a broken link, please let me know and I'll update the list.



  • Ignition! An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants (John D. Clark) - my hands-down absolute FAVORITE book on liquid rocket propellants ever. It's an incredibly smart, informative, and HILARIOUS read. Stands the test of time. It's permanently on my Kindle. Update: Now rereleased in print! PDF Amazon
  • Modern Engineering for Design of Liquid Propellant Rocket Engines (Progress in Astronautics and Aeronautics) (Dieter K. Huzel, David H. Huang) - A textbook, so find a PDF or used copy (for sure), but an EXCELLENT textbook. If you look up "Design of...", you'll find the authors' original documentation from 1967 for NASA, which is freely available as a PDF. WorldCat Amazon
  • Rocket Propulsion Elements, 9th Ed. (G.P. Sutton, O. Biblarz) - Another great resource. It's a textbook so $$$$$. PDF
  • Mechanics and Thermodynamics of Propulsion, 2nd Ed. (P. Hill, C. Peterson) - And yet another good academic source. PDF
  • Fundamentals of Electric Propulsion - Ion and Hall Thrusters (Dan Goebel, Ira Katz) - Propulsion, but electric! PDF


  • Fundamentals of Astrodynamics (Roger Bate, Donald Mueller) - Excellent introductory text to orbital mechanics. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • Orbital Mechanics for Engineering Students, 3rd Ed. (Howard Curtis) - Another really good textbook. PDF
  • Spacecraft Thermal Control Handbook: Vol.1 Fundamental Technologies (David Gilmore) - Amazon WorldCat


  • Deep Space Optical Communications (Edited by Hamid Hemmati) - Added after a lively conversation on Twitter about how packets would travel in space. PDF


  • Coming Home: Reentry and Recovery from Space (Roger Launius, Dennis Jenkins) - Free ebook from NASA, and available as an epub or mobi from their ebook page. PDF
  • Hypersonic Aerothermodynamics (John Bertin) - Included because that's a rad title, tbh. WorldCat PDF
  • Introduction to Astrodynamic Reentry (Kerry Hicks) - Quite technical, but not inaccessible. Web Archive link. PDF

Space Race

  • Space Race: The Epic Battle Between America and the Soviet Union for Dominion of Space (Deborah Cadbury) - Good historical overview of Von Braun and Korolev, as well as the politics you don't usually get on this scale. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • Starman: The Truth Behind the Legend of Yuri Gagarin (Jamie Doran, Piers Bizony) - An excellent biography of Yuri Gagarin. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control From Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond (Gene Kranz) - Good history of the space program from the famous flight director himself. Also very accessible. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • Korolev: How One Man Masterminded the Soviet Drive to Beat America to the Moon (James Harford) - If you don't know the work Korolev did, you should do yourself a favor. It's incredible to imagine how much further the Soviet program may have gone. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race (Margot Lee Shetterly) - Yep, as in the movie. No really, go read it and see what these amazing women did to put humans on a celestial body. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts (Andrew Chaikin) - A good overview of the Apollo missions NOT from the astronauts (so perhaps a bit more objective in some ways). WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • Apollo 13 (James Lovell) - The book behind the movie, and equally gripping. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars (Nathalia Holt) - Another excellent book on the women behind the scenes in the burgeoning Space Age. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • Rocket Girl: The Story of Mary Sherman Morgan, America's First Female Rocket Scientist (George D. Morgan) - The story of the scientist who played a key role in the launch of Explorer I in 1958. There's still a lot not known about her contributions, but the more we know about the unsung heroes of the Space Age, the better. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • We Could Not Fail: The First African Americans in the Space Program (Richard Paul) - Profiles of ten different NASA employees during the civil rights movement. More people of whom you wouldn't know otherwise. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • The Mercury 13: The True Story of Thirteen Women and the Dream of Space Flight (Martha Ackmann) - Ever wonder why it took so long for the US to send a woman into space? WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • Digital Apollo: Human and Machine in Spaceflight (David A. Mindell) - A really good overview of the computer systems on the Apollo missions, with a focus on the why behind the build and super detailed explanations of the development processes. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound


  • No Dream Is Too High: Life Lessons from a Man Who Walked on the Moon (Buzz Aldrin) - I mean, if I didn't have this book on here I think the Air & Space Museum would revoke my membership. Aldrin wrote several books, but I like this one. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys (Michael Collins) - A thoughtful, candid, reflective autobiography, and beautifully written. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • The Last Man on the Moon: Astronaut Eugene Cernan and America's Race in Space (Eugene Cernan) - An incredible, vulnerable, expressive read. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space (Lynn Sherr) - The "definitive" biography of Sally Ride. A bit slow in places, but a solid read on the history of NASA and the work that went on to combat sexism in that world. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me about Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything (Chris Hadfield): Who doesn't love our favorite, mustache'd Canadian astronaut? A really fun read. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • Spaceman: An Astronaut's Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe (Mike Massimino) - A terrific autobiography. Super descriptive and lovely. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • John Glenn: A Memoir (John Glenn) - The incredible life of a man who had a hell of a career, both before and after his time as an astronaut. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • Into the Black: The Extraordinary Untold Story of the First Flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia and the Astronauts Who Flew Her (Rowland White) - An excellent history of the shuttle program. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • Chasing Space: An Astronaut's Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances (Leland Melvin) - Everyone's favorite astronaut behind the world's best astronaut photo. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut (Mike Mullane) - Another great autobiography, very sincere and well done. His writing about Challenger wrecked me. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound


  • Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto (Alan Stern, David Grinspoon) - The book on the New Horizons mission, detailing how it came to be, the politics of its mission (and the infighting), and the sheer engineering required for something so incredible. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • The Design and Engineering of Curiosity: How the Mars Rover Performs Its Job (Emily Lakdawalla) - THE book on Curiosity, how it was built, what it does, and how it works (and why it's such a big deal). If you were curious about anything regarding Curiosity, this book has it. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • Mars Rover Curiosity: An Inside Account from Curiosity's Chief Engineer (Rob Manning, William L. Simon) - Want the chief engineer's account on the Curiosity mission? This is a really good take, and covers a lot of the internal politics and engineering challenges. If you're super into Curiosity, this is solid. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound

Astronomy and Astrophysics

  • Cosmos (Carl Sagan) - the classic, the perennial favorite. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space (Carl Sagan) - another classic, and one that should stick with you. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • The Sun's Heartbeat: And Other Stories from the Life of the Star That Powers Our Planet (Bob Berman) - an absolutely lovely read about the science of the sun and how our very existence is owed to this star we orbit. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • Death from the Skies!: The Science Behind the End of the World (Phil Plait) - an accessible read of the multitude of ways in which the world could be destroyed, but not presented in a depressing way (though YMMV; it's really quite enjoyable if you enjoy his writings already). WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries (Neil DeGrasse Tyson) - a perennial classic, this anthology of some of NDT's most popular articles is very good. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution (Neil DeGrasse Tyson) - 14 billion years of history crammed into 300 pages. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • Exoplanets: Diamond Worlds, Super Earths, Pulsar Planets, and the New Search for Life beyond Our Solar System (Michael Summers, James Trefil) - A very good, not-super-technical overview of the search for exoplanets, while warning all the while not to put too much stock in singular examples as points of reference. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound

General Science and Physics

  • Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity (Carlo Rovelli) - I cannot recommend this book enough. Think of it as a love letter to physics and quantum mechanics. Incredibly, beautifully written. It permanently sits on my bedside table because I enjoy rereading passages so much. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory (Brian Greene) - Another excellent book on quantum mechanics. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the 10th Dimension (Michio Kaku) - Kaku's writings on 10-dimensional space are awesome, albeit maybe a bit dated. A good read if you want some sweet, sweet quantum mechanics. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy (Kip Thorne) - an AMAZING insight into modern physics. If you've been following the LIGO findings and science behind gravitational waves, you'll enjoy this. Kip Thorne is also just an A+ writer. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • A Brief History of Time (Stephen Hawking) - another classic on the history of the universe. If you haven't actually given it a shot, I highly recommend it; I love Hawking's sense of humor and the way he teaches. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars (Dava Sobel) - An incredible, meticulous history about the contributions of a group of women as the human computers in the Harvard College Observatory. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • The Science of Interstellar (Kip Thorne) - a wonderful book for the science behind the movie. Obviously if you don't like the movie, this may not be your cup of tea, but since I loved it and this is my list, it's on here. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound

Space Porn

  • Otherworlds: Visions of Our Solar System (Michael Benson): a BEAUTIFUL coffee table book if you want planet porn. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • Hubble: Imaging Space and Time (David Devorkin, Robert Smith): another STUNNING coffee table book, all of Hubble images. WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes: Photographs from the International Space Station (Chris Hadfield) - WorldCat Amazon IndieBound
  • Any of the NASA Haynes manuals; there's one for the HST, Cassini-Huygens, Voyagers 1 & 2, the Lunar Rover (Apollo 15 & 17), the shuttles, Saturn V, Soyuz (all models), etc etc etc. If you want construction porn, this is perfect. Haynes website

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