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

Published: July 16th, 2012     
Product Image
Author: Piers Bizony
Reviewed by: Charles Landrum - IPMS# 26328
Company: Zenith Press
ISBN #: 978-0-7603-3941-1
Other Publication Information: Hardcover, 300 pages, technical specs and drawings
Price: $40.00
Product / Stock #: 149788
Product provided by: Zenith Press

With the recent retirement and consignment of the Shuttle fleet to museums around the country, it is nice to see a book that is a retrospective on the program. This book is ambitious in its scope, covering the entire program from the early testing of lifting bodies to the final mission of Atlantis (STS-135) in July, 2011, in just 300 pages. It is more photographic history than narrative and, given the scale of the operation, the pictures are captivating and more than make up for the lack of text. The book is divided into seven chapters (called stages) and an appendix:

  • Stage One - The Routine Dream: reinventing access to space
    • (mission images April 1981 - January 1986)
    • The is the most varied chapter, starting with the lifting bodies, continuing through Enterprise drop testing, and finishing with the early shuttle launches before the Challenger Disaster.
  • Stage Two - Falling from Grace: the realities of rocket flight.
    • This chapter pays tribute to the Challenger Disaster.
  • Stage Three - Rebuilding Trust: an era of great achievements
    • (mission images December 1988 - November 1994)
    • The photo-story picks up after the 2 year hiatus in missions and includes repairs to the Hubble Telescope.
  • Stage Four - Unexpected Allies: making peace with Russia
    • (mission images February 1995 - October 1998)
    • This chapter chronicles renewed cooperation in space with the Russians and continues the coverage of missions.
  • Stage Five - An Island in the Sky: establishing the space station
    • (mission images December 1998 - November 2002)
    • The focus of this chapter is on the missions to build the international space station, but it includes complete coverage of all missions.
  • Stage Six - At the Crossroads: reshaping the space program
    • (mission images January 2003 - July 2011)
    • This chapter begins with the loss of Columbia and the chronicles the return to space 2 1/2 years later in 2006 for the final 5 years of the program. As painful as they are to see, there are no images of Columbia's reentry - a clear omission in a book of this scope.
  • Stage Seven - Readying the Bird: processing the orbiter
    • In 12 pages, the author gives a good visual overview of what is required to prepare a shuttle mission.
  • Appendix - Shuttle Flight Log: complete mission summaries
    • The appendix is a summary table of all of the shuttle missions, including duration and landing site. It includes a foldout with cutaway artwork of the Columbia in 1981.

Some of the more notable images:

  • The crashed lifting body which was the opening sequence to the TV show "Six Million Dollar Man"
  • The cast of Star Trek in front of the test shuttle Enterprise
  • Sally Ride's first flight
  • Bruce McCandless' Manned Maneuvering Unit flights
  • Satellite retrieval missions
  • The Mir space station
  • John Glenn back in space
  • The Hawaiian-shirted crew of STS-100
  • The final crew of Columbia
  • The shuttle Discovery at the ISS
  • A group photo of the final prep crew for Atlantis last flight

I personally would have loved to see this book be twice the length, with more in-depth coverage of each mission, but, as it is, the images are overwhelming and pull you in. If you ever dreamed of space or just appreciate the magnitude of the science and technology of the shuttle program, this book would be a great addition to you library and, I daresay, your coffee table.

I would like to thank Zenith Press for this review copy and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review it.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <blockquote> <br> <cite> <code> <dd> <div> <dl> <dt> <em> <li> <ol> <p> <span> <strong> <ul>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Non-latin text (e.g., å, ö, 漢) will be converted to US-ASCII equivalents (a, o, ?).

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.