National Affairs: Celestial Mechanics

The moon-probe Pioneer is man's first triumph in applied celestial mechanics. Earth satellites, like bullets, baseballs or missiles, need to contend with the earth's gravitation only. Pioneer was born on a higher level of technical evolution. Its projected course toward the moon took into account three of the overlapping gravitational fields (the earth's, the sun's, the moon's) that govern the solar system. To set it on its trajectory called on theoretical astronomical and mathematical lore that man has painstakingly been accumulating without practical employment since the birth of science.

Drawing a bead on...