For such a small book, ‘Space Shuttle Launch System: 1972-2004’ packs a lot into such a small number of pages, providing both a history and the designs of the space shuttle. It’s interesting seeing how much the USAF contributed to the work on the shuttle, seeing as they wanted to use it as a platform to put satellites in orbit but backed off when it was realised the shuttle program was too public. Published in 2004, the book finishes short of the space shuttles being confined to the museums, I’m surprised an updated version hasn’t been released.
Saying that, up to 2004, there is a lot of information and the records that the shuttles made in number of people carried up into space and their various activities, including building the International Space Station.
Some things are less obvious. I wasn’t aware that some shuttles were heavier than others, which contributed to why the Enterprise was used for sorting out the problems of landing and such but too expensive to be converted to finally go into space as so many changes had been made to later shuttles. The amount of testing before going operational made a lot of sense considering the problems later. Something that did occur to me was whether the film ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ with its Orion shuttle twenty years earlier had any influence on the design or the faith that everything could be worked out.
The USSR’s attempt to do their own shuttle was kerbed when their political regime collapsed in the early 1990s. In some respects, having a shuttle programme probably kerbed the desire to go further into space since all resources were spent to keep it going.
The information of the achievements for each shuttle does show the shuttle programme was a worthwhile cause so I would never deny it should never have existed, just a shame that it wasn’t used for progression to something more.
The book really targets the young adult than the adult although I found I was absorbing a lot of information that I let slip in the past. If you missed this book the first time around or think your own kids would benefit from reading this book about the NASA space shuttle programme, then this book will fit the purpose nicely.
(pub: Osprey Publishing. 48 page illustrated indexed softcover. Price: £ 9.99 (UK), $17.95 (US), $19.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-84176-691-1)
check out website: www.ospreypublishing.com