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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2012
I have been waiting with baited breath for the release of this book. I finally saw it in Barnes and Noble today. I spent over an hour looking through every page and I didn't want to put it down. I have been a NASA geek and a space shuttle fan all my life. I have collected photography books for 25 years. Never have I seen a book that more thoroughly chronicles a subject such as the shuttles in such an interesting way. Anyone who is a fan of the space program, young or old, anyone who appreciates true artistic talent when it comes to photographs, will appreciate this book. Anyone who owns a fine art photo book, understands that they generally include spreads (two photos matched to be veiwed together) and single images with a blank facing page. This is nothing new. But for anyone with discerning taste and a fine eye for detail, this book will leave you salivating. Since the shuttle program no longer exists, this book will surely become the standard historical photographic record of something that was once a point of national pride. This will be what we show our grand kids when we talk about the shuttles. Bravo Dan Winters. Thanks for caring enough to devote your time to this so that the rest of us can sit back and recall a stellar time in the history of the U.S. space program. I don't mean to spoil the surprise, but I will be ordering this book, not only for myself, but for everyone of my freinds and family members this year. So Merry Christmas!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2012
Well, I received the book today. I ordered this book a year ago in November, so it had been a long time coming. It is big at 12" long and 10" wide. There is a little bit of text, mostly at the beginnig (including some text from Mark Kelly), but most of the book is pictures of the shuttle taking up almost the entire page. The pictures are beautiful, so clear that you can read the numbers on the tiles. There is a picture of the aft-end of the shuttle with all three engines removed which shows spectacular detail of the insides of that area. There are also stand-alone pictures of the engines and other elements such as the control console at Mission Control. As I was looking through the book, I noticed blank pages in the book; I thought maybe I had a mis-printed book. At the end of the book, however, there are thumbnails of each page, telling you what you were looking at, and it shows the blank pages. I just found that a strange choice. I would have liked the author to use all of that real-estate to display other pictures. However, that does not detract from the overall book. The pictures are amazing, and it is a must for any Shuttle fan.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 2, 2012
I checked this out at the book store last night and I could not have been any more impressed. It's like Mr. Winters knew exactly the types of things I would want to see up close and personal about the orbiters, the facilities and all of the infrastructure around the Space Shuttle program -- but mostly there are just tons of incredible photos of the launches themselves, filled the rocket's red glare, towering pillars of noxious gasses... if you think you might like this book you are going to LOVE it.

I will say though -- if you are looking for "bang for you buck", then there is an older DK book on the Shuttle from about ten years ago which is loaded with stellar photographs, not just launches, and tons of first-person narratives by the astronauts themselves. This book here is more of a strictly photographic book by an outsider, covering the most showy but by no means the only stunning aspect of the Space Shuttle program (which goes almost without saying).
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2012
I purchased this as a gift but will need to order another for myself. This is full of incredible images that are sure to become iconic in remembering the shuttle program. Dan Winters has been able to document these last launches, as well as existing memorabilia of the program, while slathering on a thick layer of bold beautiful art. I love this book, and I love Dan Winters.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2013
(nb: I received a Review Copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley)

Dan Winters's "Last Launch: Discovery, Endeavour, Atlantis" is a wonderful book, a photographic record of NASA's final three Space Shuttle launches.

I do not deny that I've always been a space nerd. Growing up on Florida's West Coast, I remember going out in the front yard, watching night-time Apollo launches. The same was true for the shuttles. There was a delay, of course. When they were televised, we could watch the actual lift off from Cape Canaveral, then walk outside and look to the east-northeast, and soon enough, there was the bright orange flame as another space mission commenced.

Dan Winters relates his own story of watching the Apollo 11 launch on TV. Something struck the same chord in both of us: there was something sacrosanct in strapping astronauts into a giant, controlled bomb, then flinging them into space.

The photos Winters shares are remarkable. Some of them amazed me with their stark clarity, the fine shadings of light on an external fuel tank, or the chiaroscuro of the shuttle's exhaust trail.

Especially intriguing is the method Winters used to capture multiple images from multiple angles. He set up cameras--up to nine of them on some shoots--and had them pre-focused and ready to go by launch time. They turned on shortly before launch. When the sound reached the camera, an ingenious sound-based trigger fired the cameras at five frames per second. Each of these cameras stood on a tripod, which was weighted and strapped down to hold it steady.

In addition to the beautiful launch pictures, Mr. Winters was allowed to take pictures inside the shuttle. The cockpit technology is daunting.

There is some good commentary here, too. Al Reinert's introduction gives a precis of the shuttle program, its successes and failures. Winters adds some writing as well.

If you're looking for a complete study of the Space Shuttle program, this would not be the book for you. "Last Launch" is not filled with recitations of facts, nor with charts and diagrams.

Rather, "Last Launch" is a loving tribute to the Space Shuttle program, spotlighting these ships that never quite measured-up to their expected use--initially, the idea was a flight every other month. There were growing pains, and we're left wondering whether the Shuttle would have been more successful if Congress had had more realistic expectations.

With the shuttle fleet grounded, there is no way to get additional pieces to the International Space Station. The Russians have some good rockets, but nothing that can handle a payload as big as the shuttles could.

I managed to see a Shuttle Launch from on Kennedy Space Center grounds, and it was an experience I'll never forget. Seeing those rockets fire, then a few seconds later, hearing that earth-quaking roar...these images will remain with me forever.

This is not a long book, but there is no wasted space--it's quality over quantity (much like the Shuttle program itself). With the holidays approaching, this would be an excellent choice for the space geek in your family.

Now, I'm off to check NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day. (I hope it's the Sombrero Galaxy)

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2013
From its first image of an early Space Shuttle schematic, published back in July of 1972, to its final image of an empty launch pad under cloudy skies, Last Launch: Discovery, Endeavor, Atlantis Hardcover is a visually stunning tribute to the modern era of spaceflight.

Dan Winters bookends his introduction with a pair of father-son photographic memories, beginning with his father taking a picture of the television to capture the launch of Apollo 11, and ending with his own son assisting him in photographing the launch of Discovery STS-133. In just two short pages he reminds us of how far we've come in the past forty years.

Al Reinart follows that with a fascinating history of how and why the American space program reached for the stars, complete with the "hubris and muddle" that was designed into the Space Shuttle. He takes us from the launch of Columbia in 1981, through the Challenger disaster of 1986, and the return to flight with Discovery in 1988; from the initial multinational docking with the space station Mir in 1995, to the multinational construction of the ISS in 1998; and through the loss of Columbia in 2004, to the return to flight in 2006, and the retirement of the Space Shuttle six years later.

Really, though, this book is a visual tribute to the power, the majesty, and the spectacle of the Space Shuttle program. Winters shoots his subjects from near and afar, providing us with glimpses of not only sheer size and scale, but also of the minute details. On one page you're staring at the pillar of smoke left behind by a successful launch, and on the next you're scrutinizing the very texture of the Shuttle's skin. He also takes us deep behind the scenes, offering up snapshots of suits and gloves, of bags of candy, and cockpit seats. For anybody who never had the chance to make it to a launch, this is a goldmine of material that's sure to rekindle those early dreams.

Wisely, Winters allows the photos to speak for themselves, presenting them in all their glossy glory, without encumbering them with text. There is a thumbnail gallery at the end, explaining each photo, but I recommend leaving that for last. Take your time enjoying the photos, running your fingers over the seams and rivets, and allowing memories to rise to the surface. It's the good times that are captured here, the evidence of human imagination and ingenuity. That's not to gloss over the sacrifices made by those who are no longer with us, but this is celebration, not a memorial - and it's nice to come away from it with that childlike sense of wonder alive and well.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2013
'Last Launch' is a photographic tribute to three space shuttles and their final launches from Florida by Dan Winters. Mr. Winters was given clearance to photograph them at launch. The photos throughout the book show some of the history of spaceflights as well as full color plates of the three featured shuttles, the Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis, in flight and at rest.

There is an introduction by Dan Winters explaining how he became interested in space missions through his parents watching launches on television in the 1960s. Also, there is an overview of the shuttle program by Al Reinert, director of NASA's documentary For All Mankind. The overview discusses the funding battles, failures and ultimate triumphs of the shuttle program, and does it in a few short pages. There is also a brief introduction by Mark Kelly, who was commander on Endeavor's last flight (and is probably better known as Gabrielle Gifford's husband at this point).

The pictures of the launches explode with power and clouds of spent fuel. Shown also are the shuttles at rest, as well as some of the ephemera of space travel. Each shuttle is given a section in the book. Some of the launch photos look similar to each other, especially when there is just a cloud of fuel vapor, but the shots of the shuttle escaping lower atmosphere are breathtaking. Shots of heat shields and astronaut gear and a bag of space ready M&Ms add a human touch to the story

The book wraps up with a description of how shuttle launch photos are taken (close up and automated with everything locked or taped down to prevent vibration). It's an intriguing process, and I was glad it was included. The book finishes with plate descriptions of the photos by Dan Winters.

I can't help but feel wistful looking at these photos. They depict a program we may never see again, but that served an amazing purpose in the history of space. Without the shuttle, we likely would not have the Hubble telescope or much of the International Space Station. It's a moving tribute.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2012
If you're crazy in love with space exploration and/or the space shuttles - GET THIS BOOK! Truly outstanding pictures! Remarkable...
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on December 23, 2014
The cover caught my eye as I recognized it as the STS-134 launch (which i was able to experience in person). The photographs are amazing and the physical book is very well crafted.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2013
This is a pictorial story of the last launches of three modern space ships. I was not overly impressed with the book. The photographs were only so-so, and did not really convey a cohesive story. There was really nothing, other than the title, to suggested that these were pictures of last launches. Perhaps this was due to the lack of captions, which would have added content to the pictures.
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