Slide Rule, Space Propulsion Calculator


Display Status:

This object is on display in the Time and Navigation exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

Collection Item Summary:

This circular slide rule computes the relationship among the various parameters of a rocket-propelled space mission: the specific impulse of the rocket motor, the paylod weight, the desired trajectory, and velocity. It would not have been accurate enough for an engineer to use in planning a mission; they used detailed mathematical formulas, evaluated by digital computers. But the slide rule would have been very useful for managers, members of the trade press, news media, and government funding agencies, who needed to know the basics of a space mission.

Collection Item Long Description:

Inventory Number


Credit Line

Gift of General Electric Corporation


Country of Origin

United States of America


  • Slide Rule: plastic
  • Case: cardboard


Approximate: 17cm (6 11/16 in.) diameter

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum


INSTRUMENTS-Computers, General Purpose