Top positive review
9 people found this helpful
An excellent description of how the shuttle is constructed and used
on 3 October 2011
This "owner's manual" (!!) describes the design of the shuttle, how it is constructed and how it works in operation. There are copious good quality photographs showing various stages of construction, and also plenty of diagrams that add factual detail. The accompanying text is well written, not at all dry, and adds to the enjoyment of the book.
The author has managed to navigate a sensible middle path between the two extremes of overwhelming the reader with technical detail or, on the contrary, just providing a sequence of pretty pictures - I'd say he has got the balance about right. You don't have to be an engineer or a technical expert to understand this book, although you will find it easier going if you know a little bit about space-flight and rocketry. (And even if you don't you will by the time you've finished reading it.)
He also is clearly writing from personal experience combined with a good technical knowledge of the Shuttle and its operations, so this is not a hagiography. He is not afraid to criticise the technical and commercial shortcomings of the Shuttle's design, or NASA's failure to react to the clear warning signs that preceded the losses of Challenger and Columbia.
In short an excellent manual that not only does what it says on the cover, but also goes well beyond this. I would recommend it highly.