"...Darling's content and presentation will have any reader moving from entry to entry..." -- The Observatory Magazine, October 2003
"...this is as comprehensive as it gets..." -- Focus, April 2003
"Darling's is the most current work available on this subject, and the detail it provides on satellite missions is notable" -- Library Journal, January 15, 2003
This one-volume encyclopedia divides its coverage of space flight into three areas: biographies of astronauts, rocket scientists, etc.; histories of manned and unmanned space missions; and the science and technology related to space flight. Darling, who has a Ph.D. in astronomy, has written several books on extraterrestrial life and cosmology. Although this volume offers a single source for comprehensive space flight information, its added value may be limited, as many libraries likely already own biographical resources (such as Michael Cassutt's Who's Who in Space), space-mission histories (such as Tim Furniss's The History of Space Vehicles), and science and technology references (such as the McGraw Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology). In addition, readers will find the cross references lacking. Many entries, such as "MECO," are entered under their acronym or initials, but there is no cross reference from the fun form, in this case "Main Engine Cut Off". In addition, entries for scientific terms are often inadequate. For example, "weightlessness" is a mere one paragraph, though one would expect much fuller treatment of such a major aspect of space flight. Despite these flaws, Darling's is the most current work available on this subject, and the detail it provides on satellite missions is notable. Wherever it doesn't duplicate existing references, this book is recommended for large academic and public libraries. Jeffrey Beall, Univ. of Colorado Lib., Denver (Library Journal, January 15, 2003)
"...this is as comprehensive as it gets..." (Focus, April 2003)
"...Darling's content and presentation will have any reader moving from entry to entry..." (The Observatory Magazine, October 2003)
From the Inside Flap
The Complete Book of Spaceflight provides more than just a catalog of technology and events. With more than 3,000 thoroughly cross-referenced entries, this book reveals the evolution of thought about space travel; the frequent interactions between science fiction and science fact; other forces that have spurred breakthroughs in rocketry-- notably military confrontations, Cold War politics, and national pride-- and the human characters and drama involved. Darling also explores a future where faster-than-light interstellar and interplanetary jaunts are the norm. Entries include:
aeolipile: Invented by Hero of Alexandria, this ancient device based on the action-reaction (rocket) principle used steam as a propulsive gas.
Baker: A female squirrel monkey, who, along with her companion Able, made the first suborbital flight from which live animals were recovered, on May 23, 1959.
Genesis: Launched August 8, 2001, this NASA mission will collect 10 to 20 micrograms of particles from the solar wind using high-purity wafers set in winglike arrays.
John Stapp: American pioneer of aerospace medicine, famous for his extreme rocket-sled experiments.
From the Earth to the Moon: A celebrated novel by Jules Verne in which a capsule containing three men and two dogs is blasted out of an immense cannon toward the Moon.
thrust chamber: The heart of all liquid propellant rocket engines. In its simplest form, the thrust chamber accepts propellant from the injector, burns it in the combustion chamber, accelerates the gaseous combustion products, and ejects them from the chamber to provide thrust.
Alcubierre Warp Drive: A notion for achieving faster-than-light travel suggested by physicist Miguel Alcubierre, spurred in part by Star Trek's fictional "warp drive."
The Complete Book of Spaceflight provides the clearest and most thorough overview of humankind's attempts to reach the stars. For the Earth-bound space fan, it's the next best thing to going there.