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Many answers on Space Exploration Stack Exchange are heavy on math and physics. I don't know how much this site is really meant to educate people with a casual interest, but that is certainly how I ended up here, and I feel there is a real lack of such a place. I think there are lots of people who would like to ask something about going to space, not for career reasons, but because it seems like it might be becoming important to know enough about it to make informed decisions. Like ensuring you know enough about climate change - an informed political view is becoming important. If the public is ever going to be willing to pay for a serious space program, they need a sense of what it is worth, what it could mean. I'm talking colonies and mining here, not just science missions.

So if you are not planning to become an engineer, what do you really need to know, and where can you find that?

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One such place is absolutely our main Q&A, the very same place you mention can sometimes be overwhelming in maths and physics. We don't cater merely to experts, but as our About goes, also to enthusiasts. Answers will inevitably follow comprehension demonstrated in questions, and yes, some will be fairly advanced, but there ought to be ways to ask new questions as follow-ups to them and requesting further clarification where needed.

Sometimes, asking for clarification or simpler rephrasing in the comments to answers should also do the trick, but do note that we consider comments transient and should ideally only discuss issues in contributions they're posted under, which would hopefully result in corrected / improved contribution itself. Simply asking a new question, linking to the question or answer that provides context and explaining what you find difficult to understand and why would be the preferable way.

Additional to our Q&A, we also maintain a fairly active chat room - The Pod Bay - where its regular dwellers will be glad to help you out, I'm sure. We also schedule chat events relevant to space exploration, which are mostly online and publicly accessible live events, from rocket launches, lectures, webinars, press conferences, panel discussions, and even senate and its various commissions hearings. All of that should also help in the easiest way possible to keep current with ongoing events and policies, while also being able to discuss them with your peers. Many of these events and conversations that followed also resulted in new questions or improved answers for our main Q&A.

TL;DR - Don't be shy in asking new questions, even if they seem a bit repetitive. One of the advantages of our Q&A format is that you can help shape answers so they fit your comprehension, as long as you take the time to explain in sufficient detail what answers are you looking for in the question itself. This personalization would also automatically make it not a duplicate. Just make sure that the questions you ask aren't too broad (which will only help you understand its answers, since it'll be easier for their authors to delve into details or answer follow-up questions in the comments), and on-topic for us. Also refer to How do I ask a good question? in our Help Center and How to ask great questions? here on Space Exploration Meta for many more suggestions.

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You can find a few sources of information at this Space Exploration meta post. I would like it to grow so please add anything appropriate to the "list"!

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I'm going to list a few things that i think help bridge the huge gap between experts and interested members of the public. It's true that answerers have helped me out as much as they can, but it seems to me this is difficult to pull off on such a highly technical topic, and all the more so when you are trying to get an overview of the whole thing. The list below goes in order from easiest to most advanced, more or less. You can actually learn an awful lot from either Kerbal or Orbiter if you really get into it, but that takes a lot of time.

  1. Kerbal Space Program. - A simulator game where you run your own space program, it will teach you an awful lot about rocketry, space ship systems, and orbital mechanics. It is realistic enough for you to get a real feel for everything from ship design to launching to orbital maneuvers. Take advantage of the many resources on the website's forums, and also on the wiki site they have. The game has a cult following though it is only in beta and shows every promise of growing a great deal.
  2. Orbiter is a realistic space flight simulator, not in game format like KSP. There are detailed maps of many solar system bodies and quality models of a number of real space vehicles. For a sense of the scale of the planets and solar system, and the workings of real ships, this is the thing. It also has a community, less active than KSP's but growing thanks to synergy.
  3. NASA Basics of Space Flight - A good general overview of all the key things. Unlike the resources that follow, this one sticks to the physics specifically involved in space flight.
  4. Khan Academy has a very approachable physics section that covers most of the principals you really need to know to appreciate the topic. So far they have not gotten around to creating the wonderful practice section they have for their math material, but i'm sure they're on it.
  5. The Physics HypertextbookThis is a complete textbook online, with clear explanations in a conversational tone, practice sections with solutions, and quizes. It has some great graphics, brings in history at various points. It is also very thorough.
  6. Bookboon's Engineering section - If you want to get into greater depth on your own time, there are various short engineering textbooks here. They can be helpful as supplementary material, or dive into them as self-contained courses. These books are free to download as pdf's, and they contain ads.
  7. Engineering Mathematics: YouTube Workbook - this is one of the Bookboon offerings that has a YouTube playlist that goes with it, so it is basically a complete online course, with exercises.
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  • $\begingroup$ +1 for KSP and Khan Academy—both awesome! $\endgroup$ – mb21 Oct 4 '14 at 15:40
  • $\begingroup$ I added this list to meta.space.stackexchange.com/q/249/4660 as well so it would be more visible and useful. $\endgroup$ – kim holder Aug 3 '16 at 15:56
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There is no real substitute for advanced math classes, but I found a good review course on Alison: Foundation Diploma in Mathematics - Science, Technology and Engineering

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It's not online, but Fundamentals of Astrodynamics by Bate Mueller & White is a great introductory to intermediate level text at a very good price.

http://www.amazon.com/Fundamentals-Astrodynamics-Dover-Aeronautical-Engineering/dp/0486600610/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1413244327&sr=8-1&keywords=fundamentals+of+astrodynamics

I think probably most people working in the field have a copy of "BMW" on their bookshelf.

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    $\begingroup$ Done ... added Escobal and Spacetrack Report #3 as well. $\endgroup$ – CoAstroGeek Oct 14 '14 at 15:20

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