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Magazines will only get you so far, Google searches don't usually yield technical papers, or not many or the best or ones that can be read in full. NASA's public website is also limited and somewhat general, ESA's too. Yet many times when I've asked a question here I am directed to a pdf of a great technical paper on exactly that topic, sometimes within minutes.

Through this assistance I have found a couple of mother lodes. There may be more, and there may be an approach to using them I haven't figured out. What are the key resources, and are there any important tips on how to use them?

Edit: this question has been designated a community wiki. So, go ahead and add whatever you've got to the one answer below, so the resources are all in one well organized answer.

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  • $\begingroup$ Depending on the number and quality of answer, this may be the most useful question on space ex. $\endgroup$ – ThePlanMan Feb 15 '15 at 2:23
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    $\begingroup$ Ouch! Technical papers don't answer questions posed to them, nor follow up with clarifications, or mold answers to fit an individual's needs. And they have no sense of irony. $\endgroup$ – kim holder Feb 15 '15 at 2:28
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  • Google Scholar is a good source. You can set up alerts to be sent to your mailbox for a particular query string.

Another good tip is to use Google Advanced Search for file type .pdf.

The NTRS integrates the following three NASA collections and enables search and retrieval through a common interface:

NACA Collection: Citations and reports from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics period lasting from 1915 to 1958. NASA Collection: Citations and documents created or sponsored by NASA starting in 1958 and continuing to the present. NIX Collection: Citations and links to the images, photos, movies, and videos from the discontinued NASA Image eXchange (NIX).

Open access to 1,012,588 e-prints in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Quantitative Biology, Quantitative Finance and Statistics

which has a section for astrophysics, with a number of subsections.

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Some others not previously mentioned:

The National Academies Press has a fairly large collection of free ebooks on space topics.

NASA's websites are very poorly coordinated and badly maintained, but there is good material there.

The NASA History Portal although clumsy to navigate and locate items in, trees out to a vast collection of documentation on US manned spaceflight. In looking at this, I just noticed that the Shuttle Operational Data Book (in part) is there, which I wasn't aware of. There's some junk linked under this portal but a lot of gold.

NASA ebooks, what it says.

NASA history ebooks, also what it says. Lots of good stuff here including Rockets and People.

JSC Digital Image Collection Searchable image index. For some reason only goes up to STS-79.

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