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Stages to Saturn: A Technological History of the Apollo/Saturn Launch Vehicles (NASA SP) Paperback – January 16, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0160489099 ISBN-10: 0160489091

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Paperback, January 16, 1997
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Product Details

  • Series: NASA SP
  • Paperback: 536 pages
  • Publisher: History Office (January 16, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0160489091
  • ISBN-13: 978-0160489099
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,891,780 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

...for those who specifically enjoy space history, it is a must. -- Space Times, March/ April 2005 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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The book is really good, with lots of good information.
Valter S. Prieto Jr.
Several missions are examined in great detail, most notably AS-506, which was, of course, Apollo 11.
Robert I. Hedges
It is amazing that the von Braun/Nasa team got all that to work, as well as they did.
Patrick Stakem

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Roger D. Launius VINE VOICE on January 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
This thorough and well-written book gives a detailed but highly readable account of the enormously complex process whereby the Marshall Space Flight Center under the direction of Wernher von Braun developed the launch vehicles used in the Apollo program to send humans to the Moon. Based on exhaustive research and equipped with extensive bibliographic references, this book comes as close to being a definitive history of the Saturn rocket program as is ever likely to appear. Moreover, it is not simply a technical history but covers the decision-making process that lay behind the technological development, making it not just a history of hardware development but also an analysis of technical management and organization. As one reviewer said in "Air University Review" while reviewing the original edition of this book: "This volume is just one of many excellent histories produced by government and contract historians for the NASA History Office....The book is enhanced by many excellent appendixes and charts, and it has a thorough essay on sources and documentation....Author Roger Bilstein...gracefully wends his way through a maze of technical documentation to reveal the important themes of his story; rarely has such a nuts-and-bolts tale been so gracefully told." I can only add my "amen" to that assessment.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Robert I. Hedges HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 21, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is the most complete history of the Saturn launch vehicle family available. Author Roger Bilstein wrote this as an official history for NASA in the late 1970s, and it was originally published in 1980. This edition is paperbound and is published by the University Press of Florida. I was tempted to give the book five stars, but ultimately two things lowered it to four. First, the illustrations are quite poor. All are black and white and most are public domain images that are of low quality. Many are taken from much larger sources and compressed so that the legends and details are virtually or completely impossible to discern. There are many better illustrations available, and there is no reason that a modern reprint of this book should have such inferior illustrations, especially when such complex (and difficult to visualize) machinery is being discussed. The second and more minor reason for the loss of a star is due to the extremely annoying use of metric units (newtons, etc.) throughout the book, which was a misdirected Carter administration whim in vogue when this was written. The problem is not with the units themselves, but rather that all the original units the program worked with were English, and after conversion the numbers are extremely cumbersome to digest and work with: as an example I opened the text randomly to page 119 (which deals with F-1 thrust chamber and furnace brazing,) and found this example, which is typical, but not the worst: "the F-1 was designed to burn its propellants at approximately 79000 newtons per square centimeter (1150 pounds per square inch) at the injector face...." Given that virtually all other sources (and all original sources) cite English units, this is a needless complication that should have been revised.Read more ›
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Moody on May 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
Being the avid manned spaceflight reader that I am, this book was a gold-mine. The history of not only the Saturn V is covered here, but also the earlier (less powerful) Saturn I and IB as well as the early proposals for other Saturn launch vehicles. Then, if that's not enough, you get stage-by-stage and engine-by-engine technical explanations along with each components' history. Marvelous! I've only been able to find this book at libraries, (unless you want to spend hundred[s] of dollars for collectable editions online) but, if you're an Apollo program or Saturn V afficienado, it's worth looking for. Highly recommended!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By T. Skloss on May 13, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm an apollo nut and very much into the technical details of the program. This book is a good overview of the Saturn project and an excellent place to start if you are just beginning your adventure into history.

However I found the book to be lacking in detail when it comes to specific technological problems and how they were solved. One has to go to the more detailed sources (NASA press kits, 1st-person accounts, etc.) for the good stuff.

The book is written in dry, documentary fashion. It is factual (a NASA publication) but not an entertaining read.

Again, an excellent source for facts, figures and an complete overview of the massive project that is Saturn.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Randy Sisto on March 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
I recently read "Apollo: The Race to the Moon", by Charles Murray and it left me hungry for more details on the Saturn V and the challenges of developing the first stage, F-1 engines. This book definitely hits the spot and provides a lot more. The text is so historically rich you feel as if you were there along side the NASA engineers. If that's not enough you might also like "Chariots for Apollo"; it tells a very good technical story about the Lunar Module development.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
I was fortunate enough to have Dr. Roger Bilstein as my professor. His personal enthusiasm for aerospace and history come together nicely in what is often considered to be the "offical" account of the development of the Saturn launcher that eventually placed men on the moon. This book will make clear that task was not nearly as easy as NASA made it seem. A must for anyone who wants to get beyond the astronaut books and see how the space program really worked in its glory days!
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