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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How they flew an icon, 22 Oct 2013
This review is from: To Orbit and Back Again: How the Space Shuttle Flew in Space (Springer Praxis Books / Space Exploration) (Paperback)
Over the 30 year history of the United States Space Shuttle program, there have been many books produced.
Mostly, these have consisted of very general overviews of operations, astronauts sharing their experiences of flying in low Earth orbit and photographic coffee table albums, with a few notable exceptions such as the essential technical development histories by Dennis R. Jenkins and more detailed program overviews penned by David Harland.
This is the first volume which concerns itself with the actual 'nitty gritty' of what it took to fly the Space Shuttle off the launch pad, how the orbiter was maneuvered once on-orbit such as performing rendezvous with the International Space Station, and what was then required to return the crew safely to a runway landing.
Written by aerospace engineer Davide Sivolella, it succeeds superbly in guiding the reader through all the important aspects of operation, from detailed descriptions of the individual vehicle elements, (Solid Rocket Boosters, External Tank and the Orbiter itself), how they were intergrated during ground processing prior to launch and then subsequently flown. All aspects of flight are covered in detail, with descriptions of all the systems the crew would utilise to interact and control one of the most complex vehicles ever built and successfully flown by human beings.
As well as how a normal mission profile was executed, the launch aborts are covered in detail, including the Return To Launch Site (RTLS) abort when the orbiter and crew were expected to perform an about turn during powered flight, still attached to the External Tank, and eventually (after jettisoning the tank) attempt a runway landing back at the launch site. This, thankfully, was never tested in anger, but the description of the abort profile is, to me, almost worth the price of the book alone.
The Space Shuttle was a truly incredible vehicle with capabilities, and spectacle, now lost to the world forever. I wish 'To Orbit And Back Again' had been available to me back in the programs (and my relative) infancy, three decades ago, as it leaves the reader in no doubt as to what was required to operate it at the limits of aerospace knowledge and spaceflight experience.
My only regret is now the book must, of course, be written in the past tense.
Highly Recommended.
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