By Dr David Baker. Hardback. 196pp. US Price: $28.00. UK Price£19.99. Publisher: Haynes Publishing. ISBN: 978 1 84425 866 6
A lot of my basic engineering knowledge comes from the Haynes Owner’s Workshop Manuals and the old cars I had as a teenager. I was therefore quite excited when I heard Haynes Publishing had released a manual for the NASA Space Shuttle.
As the Shuttles are a little more complex than my cars, I expected the format of the book to be slightly different. I did not expect it *that* different though. The Shuttle Manual is not broken down into the frames and explanations my oily fingers stained in my car manuals. It does, however, tell the story of the Shuttles. And it tells it very nicely.
The Space Shuttle Manual outlines the historical context of the Shuttle, from the view of someone who worked with NASA for over 25 years on the Gemini, Apollo and Shuttle programmes between 1965 and 1990. There is a lot of information that was new to me, particularly some of the early suggested designs which look very odd compared to the Shuttle we all know today.
There are over 250 photographs, technical diagrams and explanations. The photographs are, in general, stunning. There are many of the iconic shots, but also a good amount of behind the scenes photography. I particularly like the “Technicians carry by hand into the pressure vessel, the several miles of Orbiter nose section wiring” which looks more like technicians doing the Conga.
The manual includes details about the design, construction and operation of the Shuttles. The internal layout and systems are explained in full including the operation of life support, electrical power production, cooling, propulsion, flight control, communications, landing and avionics. This is quite similar to The Space Shuttle Operator’s Manual by Joels, Kennedy and Larkin, published by Macmillan in 1982. But then, the basic design has hardly charged over the years. All the technical parts are well explained, although some of the original diagrams are too small, so it is difficult to see which part is labelled and indeed what the labelling says in some instances.
Other sections include the whole mission process from getting the Shuttle ready, launch and lift off to re-entry and landing. Life on board is also covered, showing how astronauts live and work with weightlessness and a there is a personal reflection by the author on the missions. Verdict: An interesting tale of the life of the Space Shuttles, but you’ll need more than this manual to get your own Shuttle through it’s MOT.
3/5 – Good to have on the bookshelf and for occasional dipping in to.
Guest review by Lucy Rogers
Dr Lucy Rogers is author of It’s ONLY Rocket Science, An Introduction in Plain English www.lucyrogers.com. Lucy can also be found on twitter: www.twitter.com/DrLucyRogers