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Kennedy Space Center: Gateway to Space Hardcover – 9 Nov 2006

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A testament to human potential and the reality that geeks, at long last, deserve their own coffee-table books.--Michael Janairo"Four Corners Business Journal (Farmington, NM)" (12/11/2006)

About the Author

David West Reynolds is the author of six books, including "Apollo: The Epic Journey to the Moon" and the number 1 "New York Times" best-seller, "Star Wars: Episode I, The Visual Dictionary." He holds a doctorate from the University of Michigan and is an expert in space exploration and its history.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Nice photos, but... 10 Dec. 2006
By Delta Sigma - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I worked as an engineer on the Gemini and Apollo projects, as Pad Leader on Geminis 9 through 12 with McDonnell in St. Louis, and at Kennedy, working for Boeing on Apollos 8 through 13. I am an avid reader of space history, and feel qualified to comment.

While there are some very good photos in the book, I was quite disappointed in the large number of errors I noticed which even the most basic proofreading should have corrected. I found a similar number of errors in Mr. Reynold's previous book, Apollo: The Epic Journey to the Moon.

Here are just a few of the many:

Pg. 90 The photo clearly shows "Friendship 7" painted on the side of the spacecraft, yet the caption identifies it as Freedom 7.

Pg. 105 "Frank" Lovell should be "James" Lovell

Pg. 127 While the VAB does cover 8 acres, this equates to 10.6 football fields, not 2 as stated.

Pg. 145 caption: Apollo 11 launched in 1969, not 1965 as stated

Pg. 148 caption: Apollo 7 did not launch on a Saturn V as stated, it launched on a Saturn IB.

Pg. 190 Text states that the Shuttle's external tank carries liquid nitrogen for fuel. This is ridiculous; nitrogen is not a fuel, it is used to put fires out. The fuel was liquid hydrogen.

Pg. 197 The Shuttle never reaches 159,670 mph as stated, considering that orbital velocity is only about 1/9 of that. The fastest man has ever traveled has been approx. 25,000 mph during the Apollo lunar flights.

Pg. 230 Vanguard did not "launch" before Explorer I (unless you consider a Vanguard flight of several inches followed by a massive explosion a "launch".)

If somebody was paid to review this book before it was published, maybe the publisher should ask for their money back.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
An Interesting read but too many errors 24 Jun. 2007
By John Tribe - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Like David Shomper I too was involved in many of the events chronicled in David West
Reynolds's book and feel qualified to comment. While the book makes for an interesting read or
as a coffee table decoration (great photos) it had a disappointingly large number of errors that a
good technical review should have caught. I started writing them down but lost impetus as I progressed through the book and I'm sure I missed more. I did not duplicate David Shomper's comments except to expand on one of them. Hopefully, if I list those I did notice the author can incorporate changes in any subsequent editions.

Page 33 The Saturn V second stage was manufactured by North American Aviation, later North American Rockwell, at Seal Beach, California - not by Douglas.

Page 35 Photo - is not inside the VAB. It is on Pad 37.

Page 62 The lighthouse on the Cape was built in 1868 and moved to its current location in 1894. The 1847 lighthouse was torn down to provide the foundation for the new lighthouse.

Page 72 Photo - not sure where this photo was taken but it is definitely not at the Cape in 1953

Page 77 The author appears confused about the Redstone/Jupiter nomenclature, which is understandable - Von Braun's people used misleading names to facilitate range launch priorities at the Cape in the late 50's.

Basically the Redstone missile was a MRBM with a range of some 200 miles while the Jupiter missile was an IRBM with a range of nearly 2000 miles.

However when two solid upper stages were added to an extended length Redstone it was named the Jupiter C (the `C' standing for `composite reentry test vehicle). A modified Jupiter C with a fourth stage was named the Juno I. The Juno I naming occurred officially after the first Explorer launch so that its launch vehicle is usually incorrectly called a Jupiter C (or partially correct as a modified Jupiter C) in books and articles when it was, in reality, a Juno I.

When a larger booster was required the same three solid upper stages were added to a Jupiter first stage and it was named the Juno II. It was used for several subsequent space probes.

With all that understood the following corrections apply:

Jupiter C was not more powerful than the Thor and could not send a one-ton warhead 1850 miles down range. I believe the author was referring to the Jupiter IRBM.

Pad 26 was built for the Jupiter IRBM program not Jupiter C, which was basically still a Redstone, although the latter in its Redstone and Juno I versions were launched from Pad 26A.

The new name for the Explorer modified Jupiter C launch vehicle was Juno I, not Juno and not to be confused with the bigger more powerful Juno II.

Page 82 The Redstone launch vehicle used alcohol as its fuel, not kerosene.

Page 86 The Mercury Atlas 3 flight flew in April 1961, not May, and was destroyed by the Range Safety Officer after it failed to program. It was not in the clouds at the time - I was watching it from the roof of Hangar J.

Page 89 The blockhouse at Pad 14 did not have a second storey - the only Atlas blockhouse to have a second storey was at Pad 36 (Atlas - Centaur)

Page 131 Photo. There are no S-1B's in the picture - just S-1C's.

Page 137 Kerosene was only one of he fuels for the Saturn V - no mention is made of the massive liquid hydrogen tank that was required for the second and third stages.

Page 140 A typical failing of many write-ups on the Apollo program is to totally omit any mention of the ACE (automatic checkout Equipment) stations in the MSOB. It was from these control rooms that all spacecraft checkout, monitor and launch support for both the CSM and the LM were conducted. These stations were just yards from the astronaut quarters on the third floor. The only spacecraft representative in the LCC was a coordination link between the ACE Station and the LV test director.

Page 144 After previous sections that glorified Martin and Grumman the third paragraph on this page is totally unnecessary and demeaning of North American, a company that shouldered some of the major challenges of the Apollo program. The author should read "Angle of Attack", the story of Harrison Storms, to understand some of the immense issues involved and exactly what role NASA played in the design deficiencies that contributed to the Apollo 1 fire and S II design. The contribution of North American and its thousands of dedicated workers to the Apollo program deserves better than the snide comments in this paragraph.

Page 147 While the immensity of the sound and fury of a Saturn V launch is impressive 3 miles away I never felt any heat transfer across that distance and I watched several.

Page 148 Photo - The Saturn V did not launch Apollo 7. The photo is of the S IVB, the second stage of the Apollo 7 Saturn 1B launch vehicle. The fact that the panels on the spacecraft LM adaptor (or SLA in NASA terminology) are open but still attached show that it was Apollo 7, the only manned flight that the SLA panels were not disconnected and released. It should also be added that the SLA was attached to the Instrument Unit (or IU) built by IBM. This was a vitally important part of the stack and has been totally omitted in the book. It contained all the flight control electronics for the Saturn 1B and V vehicles. The IU was mounted atop the S IVB and was the last and uppermost constituent part of the booster.

Page 150 Another shot at North American. The Apollo 13 tank failure was more than a communication error and shouldn't be cavalierly placed at North American's doorstep.

Page 157 Since the Columbia accident NASA has always had a "rescue" shuttle in the flow.

Page 172 Photo caption - the Navaho shown is the only configuration that ever flew, the G 26, which used two Rocketdyne engines on its booster rocket, not three. It was definitely NOT the forerunner of the Redstone, which first flew three years earlier. However the Navaho Rocketdyne engines, using lox and kerosene, went on to form the basis for the engines that subsequently powered the Jupiter, Thor, Atlas and Saturn.

Page 174 The company North American Aviation became North American Rockwell in 1967 and finally Rockwell International in early 1973. To say that in the mid 70's "NAA was struggling to build the spacecraft" is incorrect both in the company name and the struggling aspect. Based on this and other comments I don't think the author had much respect for the company that built the X-15, the Apollo spacecraft, the Saturn S II and the shuttle orbiter! Maybe he had bad sources.

Page 181 The convoy does not off-load fuels and toxins on the runway.

Page 183 The windblown white sand at the White Sands Space Harbor should be more correctly identified as gypsum, not sand.

Page 186 Orbiter Processing Facility 3, or Hangar 3 as the author calls it, was originally built by the USAF at Vandenberg AFB. It was excessed after Challenger when the planned USAF shuttle flights from the west coast were cancelled and moved to KSC.

Page 186 Residual hypergolic propellants are not drained from their systems to safe the vehicle unless specific access or repair warrants draining. Residuals remain on board throughout the flow.

Page 194 Gaseous hydrogen and oxygen clouds do not spontaneously ignite when mixed.

Page 196 The sound suppression water flow commences at T-16 seconds, not 6.6 secs., and reaches peak flow of 900,00 gpm at T +9 seconds. It is exhausted in about 25 seconds.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Another bad space history book 13 Mar. 2007
By Jeffrey F. Bell - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is typical of many current glossy coffee-table books about space:

-- the title is misleading as only a small part of the book is actually about KSC or even the Cape Canaveral area in general

-- it is riddled with errors, and not just wrong dates and technical points, but fundamental misconceptions about the political and military background of many space projects.

-- it tries to cram a general history of space flight into too small a format and leaves out a lot.

-- there are no maps or diagrams, only pretty pictures.

If you want hard information about the Cape, get "Go For Launch!" instead of this worthless book.
10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Birthplace of the Space Race 26 Sept. 2006
By Author Bill Peschel - Published on
Format: Hardcover
A few years back, when the possibility of "space tourism" arose, I wrote a novel fantasizing about winning a seat on the shuttle. Not only was it hugely enjoyable to write, it gave me permission to dive into the NASA archives and read all the space-related books I could find.

I wish I had this at hand at the time. Half history, half coffee-table book, "Kennedy Space Center" is the next best thing to a guided tour. "Kennedy Space Center" traces the story of the Cape Canaveral site with vivid prose and 150 pictures, many of them rare.

There's so many excellent shots that it becomes difficult to pick the highlights. There's a satellite view of the site that clearly show the launch pads and the massive Vehicle Assembly Building, so big that the 35-story-tall Apollo rocket could be assembled inside. There's a lovely time-lapse shot of Columbia lifting off, its contrail arcing over two of its predecessor rockets, that could have popped off a cover of Astounding Stories. There's photos from NASA archives of Mercury and Redstone launches; technicians at work on the shuttle; the mammoth 6,000,000-pound crawler that crushes rocks into sand as it transports rockets to the launch pads at a speed of under a mile per hour (the speedometer, however, goes up to two); the Skylab and shuttle missions.

While the photos are good, the prose is better. David West Reynolds interweaves descriptions of the facility with a history of the space program that's concise, elegant and moving.

Unfortunately, the future of NASA is unclear. Thompson devotes a chapter to President Bush's space initiatives, but the costs are high, there are many constituencies to satisfy, and there are questions over NASA's ability to turn the massive agency in new directions. It may be that the future lies in privately funded enterprises such as Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne. If so, "Kennedy Space Center" may stand, not as a signpost to the future, but a memorial to a glorious past.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Disappointing 30 April 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In addition to errors of fact, this book contains a poor selection of photographs. There are limited views of the equipment and structures on the site, such as launch pads, gantries, and blockhouses, and no compreshensive annotated maps showing the evolution and layout of the Space Center are provided. Many of the photographs are not even of the Kennedy Space Center or directly related activities and are more suitable for a brief overview of limited aspects of the manned space program. There are very few actual launch photos, and many of the significant unmanned and manned launch vehicles are omitted entirely. Military missiles are severely unrepresented; although, they formed the basis of much of the testing done there and were the precursors for many space boosters. The only significant coverage in this area is that of the V-2; however, it is overdone given that the V-2 was a minor player in the U. S. space program and was overshadowed by many other rockets, including Redstone, Atlas, Thor, and Titan.

This is not a good book on the topic and is severely hampered by the poor and unrepresentative choice of photographs. I would not recommend it for either its content or visual value.
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