This page no longer updated from 31 October 2001. Latest version can be found at About the Encylopedia Astronautica

The Encyclopedia Astronautica is a proven and reliable reference source endorsed by the Encyclopedia Britannica, library associations, NASA, Internet guides, the New York and London Times, and leading space writers and historians. A list of their enthusiastic reviews and coments is provided below.

Mark Wade is the editor of the site and author of most of its unique content. Mark has been fascinated by space exploration since Sputnik was orbited. His interest in the history and technology of space flight is a hobby - his academic background is in archaeology and physical anthropology. Aside from the Encyclopedia Astronautica, his articles on space and rocketry topics have appeared in International Defence Review, Fliegerrevue, Spaceflight, Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, Modern Astronomer, and the HBO 'From the Earth to the Moon' web site.

Mark began collecting information on spacecraft and rockets in elementary school. This collection evolved over the years from paper to an Atari-based launch vehicle design program. This was followed by a Macintosh Hypercard stack on Soviet manned spaceflight. With the advent of the World Wide Web, it seemed that the perfect medium had arrived for sharing this information with the widest possible audience.

There were several motivations and inspirations for the site.

With the end of the Cold War, a lot of Russian language information became available on the rockets and space projects of the Soviet Union. Only a limited amount of this was being published in English, and then only in specialised publications. Through the site a wider audience can learn what 'really happened' in space during those years.

The site is also an experiment in integration of public-source data fully utilising the hyperlink approach at the core of the world wide web. The site is stored in an Access database, and the pages are generated using Visual Basic code. This allows the information to be mined and arranged in a variety of ways to address particular themes. Inspirations for this approach included the original Internet Movie Database and Apollo Lunar Surface Journal.

The site started as a modest Internet version of the Hypercard stack. In June 1996 it moved to its current location, as suggested by Dennis Newkirk and supported by Jennifer Green. Since then the site has grown from a few dozen pages and images to over 7,000 pages and 4,000 images. Visitors to the site have increased steadily and the home page alone gets over 30,000 visitors a month, with the one millionth visitor expected before the end of 2001. The server space for the site is provided by Friends and Partners in Space, a sub-group of Friends and Partners, devoted to Russian-American cultural and technical exchange. There are no commercial sponsors.

Unique content on the site includes articles on Soviet manned spacecraft, including military, lunar, and Mars projects that were developed but never successfully flew. The site features the only complete single reference source on or off the web for all launches to orbit; all spacecraft orbited; all astronauts and cosmonauts that flew in space or entered training; all launch vehicles used for orbital flights; and data on many projects, spacecraft and launch vehicle designs that were proposed or cancelled before development was complete.

Entries are constantly being expanded and updated. Contributions (articles, images) for the site are accepted, but contributors should check first and realise that no payment can be made (although credit is cheerfully provided). Major contributors to date include Jim Oberg (Russian space), Dietrich Haesler and Asif Siddiqi (Russian rocket engines), Ed Grondine (Chinese space), Richard Graf (gun-launched rocketry), Andre Bedard (solid propellants), Jonathon McDowell (launch and spacecraft images and data) and Alexander Zheleznyakov (cosmonauts and astronauts).

Endorsements and Reviews

Web's Best Sites - Comprehensive reference for the history of spaceflight from 1930 to the present.

Highly recommended.... Contains a wealth of knowledge...a must for anyone who wants information on manned and unmanned spaceflight. Keen use of links and cross-references across the site, browsing through the enormous database is simple and appeals not only to the professional, but also to anyone with an interest in spaceflight or who simply wants to explore. For the more serious researcher, there is an extensive reference list as well as articles on special topics and hundreds of graphics.

....a splendid job. It certainly becomes a basic reference for me. ...magnificent work. ... I wish I had had it when I was researching KOROLEV.

Encyclopedia Astronautica...The authoritative Internet space history reference.

I want to congratulate you on establishing a very fine site that provides a most useful service.

the encyclopedia astronautica is ... interesting and invaluable resource... authoritative and amazing site

...absolutely packed with information...absorbing reading. The actual construction of the site is very good. I was amzed to find out just how much I had forgotten or had never heard of will not be disappointed.

...the comprehensive guide to spece on the web...hard to top.

Let me do so by expressing my great admiration...Impressive! Fantastic work!

...among the best and most useful library and reference sites online. 

An excellent job....I delight in finding new bits which correct 1994 errors or illuminate items that were an unknown when I did the book.

In cyberspace, the Encyclopedia Astronautica Web site has gained recognition as a well-organized source of a vast wealth of information about American and Russian space exploration...Truly encyclopedic, this is a colorful and easily-navigated site.

Mark Wade's Encyclopedia gets better all of the time! This is fantastic work and at the top of my space bookmarks. Truly exceptional! A treasure trove.

....really enjoyed your recent update on your site about Soviet space. Great stuff.

This is definitely a very nice site. Quite impressive.

I always enjoy the updates in your encyclopedia. Keep up the good work.

It's... beautiful! Well done!

Mark Wade's account of Soviet proposals for piloted Mars expeditions is impressive! I wish I'd written it. Check it out!

Thank you for your excellent web site on space technology, certainly unmatched by anything on the internet. Your site is a great source of information, very well organized and even after visiting it numerous times, I still find wealth of new data.

Bravo! Most excellent and informative. Better than Jane's space directory (and it's FREE!).

Academic Excellence Award...selected as one of the best educational resources on the web

Encyclopedia Astronautica - highest rating - most complete resource for rockets, spacecraft, launch vehicles, astronauts, cosmonauts, spaceflight, engines, space history, & exploration

Most Popular Sites - Encyclopedia Astronautica

Go Network Award

Griffith Observatory Star Award for excellence in promoting astronomy to the public through the World Wide Web.

Space Site of the Week

Cool Sites for Kids

Family First award..identified to over 50,000 readers as the best the Internet has to offer..

Cool Nite Site Award - an awesome site that must have taken an incredible amount of time and effort.

Site of the Night - award for valuable educational, scientific, technical or inspiring contents

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Last update 7 May 2001.
Contact Mark Wade with any corrections or comments.
Conditions for use of drawings, pictures, or other materials from this site..
© Mark Wade, 2001 .