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Space Shuttle: The First 20 Years -- The Astronauts' Experiences in Their Own Words Hardcover – June 7, 2002

4.7 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

We're living in a sci-fi world, but we hardly seem to notice it. Recounting the history of our most successful space program, the editors of Air & Space and Smithsonian magazines reawaken the reader's attention to the fantastic in Space Shuttle: The First 20 Years. Featuring hundreds of beautiful, enlightening, and sometimes funny photographs (many never before published), the book has compelling visual appeal for all ages. Uniquely focused on the personal experiences of the astronauts who lived and worked aboard shuttles and space stations, the text is largely made up of interviews and written reminiscences of these often-inspiring adventurers. The subjects roam from the mundane (What did Mir smell like?) to the reverent (What's it like to see the effects of war from space?). The two main parts of the book are each arranged chronologically: first following the missions from 1981 onward, then looking closely at the experience of space travelers, from training through launch and recovery. To the editor's credit, they don't shy away from retelling the story of the Shuttle program's most defining moment--the 1986 Challenger disaster. Though it's every bit as chilling to read about many years later, the context of later dedication to safety and noncommercial uses heightens the value of the sacrifice. A glossary, detailed mission list, and thorough illustrated guide to shuttle operations round out the book, making it a valuable reference and an important reminder that our species has achieved something heroic. --Rob Lightner

From Library Journal

This amazing book documents the history of the space shuttle program by collecting anecdotes and reminiscences from the astronauts and some remarkable pictures of the shuttle and Earth from space. Compiled by the editors of Air&Space/Smithsonian magazine, the 77 well-edited, first-person accounts are honest and compelling. The astronauts tell funny stories, describe their first experiences in zero gravity, and reveal their fear of failing in their missions. Many complain that the busy schedule during flights left no time to gaze out the window at Earth. Selected from the NASA archives, the numerous color photographs some previously unpublished complement the astronauts' recollections and show amazing views of Earth and the astronauts working in and outside the shuttles. Because this work provides firsthand accounts of the shuttle program, it will be valuable to historians of manned space flight. But casual readers will also be captivated by the astronauts' unique descriptions of the flights, especially the personal details that are usually omitted from books about the shuttle, such as Dennis R. Jenkins's more technology-focused Space Shuttle. Highly recommended. Jeffrey Beall, Univ. of Colorado Lib., Denver
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: DK; 1st edition (June 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0789484250
  • ISBN-13: 978-0789484253
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #890,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bruce Crocker on June 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Space Shuttle: The First 20 Years is the best book on the shuttle program yet. Yes, it has beautiful [and in some cases, unpublished] photos. Yes, it has all the details you need to know to follow a shuttle mission from training to landing. But the best part of this book is that it contains the shuttle experience in the words of the astronauts themselves! The book contains paragraph to essay length quotes from the shuttle astronauts organized into different chapters each concerning a different aspect of a shuttle mission. This book is a cousin to the beautiful and now out-of-print The Home Planet [1988], although the quotes in that book were never longer than a paragraph. To top it off, Space Shuttle: The First 20 Years is published by DK Publishing, a company especially good at this type of book. Throw in a lower than normal price for a coffee table-style book and you can't miss. I highly recommend this book.
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Format: Hardcover
It may seem strange that one author who has written a Space Shuttle book is recommending another book on the same subject, but this is one of the most beautifully presented books I have ever seen. It tells the story from an entirely different perspective than mine, and I am very happy that Tony Reichhardt and the Smithsonian have produced such a wonderful tribute to the program. I highly recommend this work.
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Format: Hardcover
With the words of those who have flown the Space Shuttle over the past 20 years, and stunning NASA photography, the reader is taken on a litterary flight to orbit. Not a dry technical account of stats and flight info, but the actual experiences of the 70+ astronauts that lead the reader from training, launch, on-orbit, visits to MIR and the International Space Station, reentry and landing. The editorial staff of Smithsonian's Air & Space Magazine have joined the league of authors/ astronauts Michael Collins and Jim Lovell and historian Andrew Chakin for their ability allowing readers to take flight through the pages of their books.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Opening this book took me back to that Sunday morning back in 1981 when as a space addicted 16 year old I watched the television in amazement as STS 1 took to the skies for the first time. The book provides a wonderful walk through all that has happened in the two decades that followed. The short remarks of so many who have flown on the shuttle provide remarkably vivid insights into what most of us can only dream of experiencing. A terrific selection of photographs makes this a must have for any fan, young or old, of the space shuttle program.
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By A Customer on September 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
If you are interested in the space program, this book is a must have. I got it for a birthday gift and really treasured it. I think most people will enjoy the narratives given by the astronauts about what goes on behind the scenes. It offers a rich in-depth perspective from the astronaut's point of view.
The photography is superior.
Well worth buying. I can't say enough good things about it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this the day that the Columbia was lost. I needed to have some help dealing with the loss. I have been interested in the Space program since the 70's. I was born the day before Apollo 11 took of for the moon.
The stories in this book are excellent, the photographs, amazing. If you want or need a memento of the Shuttle, this is the book to buy.
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I think there are three broad types of books on space programs. The pasted together by who-knows-who sadly disappointing ones. The fine works that illuminate some aspect of the space program with technical quality or historical insight or somesuch. And then there are those few books that bring together the history and the machines and the people with the words of those who were there, awesome drool-on-the-page photos, and the love of a quality craftsman. This is of course the latter. All written by the astronauts. Includes notes on every mission. Well worth the money.
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Format: Hardcover
It seems hard to believe that the first space shuttle launch happened almost 22 years ago. During that time, hundreds of astronauts and cosmonauts both men and women, from many different countries have flown in space onboard this marvel of engineering. This book recounts the adventures of those who have flown onboard the space shuttle, using high quality, color photographs and a small amount of accompanying text (a few paragraphs to a few pages) provided by the astronauts and as the title states, in their own words. I've always felt that a large format, coffee table style book dedicated to the space shuttle program was long overdue.
This book is divided into two distinct parts: A chronology of the first twenty years of missions and then a section that examines an entire space shuttle mission from training to launch and then to landing. These two sections are loaded with many different stories such as the wonder of being in space and viewing our home planet, preparing and eating meals in space, a humorous story of the operation of the space toilet, the use of Mir, the construction of the International Space Station and of course the terrible times associated with the Challenger explosion. It is nice to see that through all the triumphs and trails of space exploration, these people who many hold up as modern day heroes, are just as human as the rest of us, and are filled with awe of this great adventure into the unknown.
The book also contains an Appendix that provides an excellent summary of all the missions that occurred during the first twenty years of shuttle operations. In addition, there is also a nice overview section, which briefly examines shuttle systems, astronauts training and shuttle operations.
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