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Atlas: The Ultimate Weapon by Those Who Built It (Apogee Books Space Series)
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Top Customer Reviews
Chuck Walker and Joel Powell have written one of the best books to date about the history and uses of the first American Intercontinental Ballistic Missile- the Atlas.
It details how the Vultee Corporation started building the MX-774 rocket nearly 60 years ago and how it led to the Convair Atlas ICBM and became todays Lockeed Martin Atlas V commercial launcher.
For the first time the reader gets to see behind the classifed world that was Atlas. The test stands, the test firings and the Silos, and what went on in designing and building them.
The book tells of the innovations of the stage-and -a -half rocket, whose skin was so thin that it had to be inflated to keep its shape! Some of the stories include what happened during the Cuban missile crisis when avery Atlas that could be fueled was ready to be hurled at the Soviet Union.
The Atlas story was first told in the in the early 1960s' and I find that this book jumps around in the retelling of these stories. The major problem with this book is that it is based on interviews and does not ask specific questions, like -what happened during a failure like Figure 12-6 illistrates, or how and why did they replace the sustainer engine for John Glenn's Atlas 109-D while it stood vertically on the launch pad? I still want to hear the answer to that one! There is also very little about Atlas and its uses in Project Gemini- the second American manned space project There might be a photo of an unusual Atlas configuration on one page, but the simplist of discriptions making you want to know more about that specific launch!
But these little stories are also the books major strength.Read more ›
I still think the book is missing something. Not sure if it is context or some of the technical depth. I found Titan II: A History of a Cold War Missile Program to be a better history of US cold war missile development than this book. Dry, but packed full of information.
What I really want is a history of Polaris which is not on its bureacratic success or a 1960s fan book.
This is also a great look at government program managment and system engineering in the 1950s. Much of that hasn't changed much today in principle, but the modern engineer or manager might be surprised to see the immense size and scope of such a project so long ago. Equally impressive is the technical competence of the engineers involved. In an era when nobody had ever built an ICBM or launched a rocket into orbit yet, these guys knew exactly what they were doing and the results speak for themselves in the outstanding success rate of the Atlas throughout its career.
The book does have some weaknesses.
There are some ommissions, which is to be expected in such a short history book spanning 50 years. Little attention is paid to the "new" Atlas V launch vehicle, since design-wise it's not a "real" Atlas anymore, lacking a balloon tank fuselage and dispensing with the booster-sustainer engine combo. In any case, Atlas V was new and unproven when this book was published.
The book also suffers from the somewhat amatuerish editing methods common to many Apogee Books products.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Physically, this book is a 7" x 10", 312 page square bound card cover. Supplementing the numbered pages are 16 pages of very well reproduced color photographs. Read morePublished on May 1, 2010 by Jim Davis
Chuck Walker tells the story of the development of the Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from an insider's perspective. Read morePublished on December 27, 2007 by Roger D. Launius
Very, very interesting. This book talks to many different people involved in the development and flight of the Atlas booster. I eat up all of these details. Read morePublished on March 16, 2007 by Franklin H. Neal III
An extremely interesting book about our space industry. However it is written with the Engineering and Management type mind.Published on January 9, 2007 by Harry Dishong