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Aerospace engineering is the primary field of engineering concerned with the development of aircraft and spacecraft. It has two major and overlapping branches: aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering. Avionics engineering is similar, but deals with the electrical side of aerospace engineering.
Aeronautical engineering was the original term for the field. As flight technology advanced to include craft operating in outer space (astronautics), the broader term "aerospace engineering" has largely replaced it in common usage. Aerospace engineering, particularly the astronautics branch, is often colloquially referred to as "rocket science".
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- As seen in retrospect, the first 50 years of aeronautical engineering have been dominated by one characteristic shape of the practical aeroplane on the one hand and Prandtl's boundary-layer and aerofoil theories on the other.
- Th. Von Kármán; A. M. Ballantyne; R. R. Dexter (15 May 2014). Advances in Aeronautical Sciences: Proceedings of the Second International Congress in the Aeronautical Sciences, Zürich, 12-16 September 1960. Elsevier. p. 221. ISBN 978-1-4831-6483-0.