The Space Shuttle: Celebrating Thirty Years of NASA's First Space Plane

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9780760339411: The Space Shuttle: Celebrating Thirty Years of NASA's First Space Plane

This superbly designed and lavishly illustrated book marks a special moment in history: the final mission of the space shuttle. Noted space and science author Piers Bizony has put together a retrospective that covers the entire space shuttle program. In addition to covering every space shuttle mission, the book also covers the development and design of the space shuttle, as well as the technical specifications of the vehicle and details of its major assemblies and subassemblies. A full double-gatefold provides a large-scale technical drawing of the space shuttle.

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From the Inside Flap:

With theoretical roots stretching as far back as the 1930s, NASA’s space plane was a long time coming. In fact, two space-plane concepts were developed in the sixties, the X-20 Dyna-Soar and the X-15, but both were shouldered aside by the Apollo program, NASA’s response to President John F. Kennedy’s bold charge to land an American on the moon. As Apollo wound down, President Richard Nixon agreed that NASA should pursue a less expensive, reusable shuttle for the exploration and exploitation of orbital outer space. This return to the rocket-launch/glider-landing concept led to the 1976 rollout of the space shuttle Enterprise, which flew successful gliding and landing tests. The first orbital flight would come when Columbia launched on April 12, 1981—the twentieth anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s first orbit, humanity’s first journey into space. The Space Transportation System, as it was formally known within NASA, had begun its thirty years of service in Earth orbit. Only five years later, though, it seemed like it was all over when Challenger’s external fuel tank exploded seventy-three seconds after liftoff, destroying the shuttle and all aboard, a disaster felt around the world. It was a long, hard road back to space for NASA, but much of the program’s best work was still ahead. The launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, and the triumphant repair of its faulty optics three years later, proved to be highlights of the shuttle’s long career.  That entire career is chronicled by Piers Bizony, from early theories and various prototypes through the final flights. Every mission, including crew and accomplishments, is covered, from the tragic losses of Challenger and Columbia to the historic construction of the International Space Station. A testimony to NASA’s ingenuity, and a warning of its occasional bureaucratic mistakes, the shuttles will be long remembered as the workhorses of the U.S. space program, their legacy illustrated by over five hundred color photos collected in Space Shuttle.

From the Back Cover:

From the beginning, the Space Shuttle was a bold idea: a space plane launched as a rocket only to drop out of orbit deadstick, unpowered, with one chance to glide safely back to Earth. Like any space program, it had its tragedies and triumphs . . . and reached its end. After thirty years of service, the shuttles have come back to Earth for good, destined for new homes in museums across the United States. As this chapter of the American space program closes, author Piers Bizony chronicles three decades of shuttling astronauts, satellites, telescopes, space station parts, and science experiments in this lavishly illustrated celebration of the world’s first operational space plane. With over five hundred color photos covering day-to-day operations before, during, and after liftoff and touchdown, charting the breakthroughs and the setbacks, Space Shuttle is a fitting tribute to NASA’s longest-running space program.

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ISBN 10: 0760339414 ISBN 13: 9780760339411
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