- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: Smithsonian Books (October 30, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1588346323
- ISBN-13: 978-1588346322
- Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 1 x 11.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space Hardcover – October 30, 2018
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NASA project manager Kitmacher, science writer Miller (Aliens: Past, Present, Future), and space historian Pearlman deliver a generously illustrated crash course in the history, present, and future of space stations. After describing early cosmology, the authors move through the first theoretical and fictional descriptions of permanent space-based structures, the early days of space travel, the first working stations, and a longer look at the International Space Station. A section on space stations’ depiction in pop culture, from German author Karl Laffert’s 1926 novel about a “Weltraumstation” to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, provides an intriguing perspective, and the authors finish with the possible implications for humanity, such as outposts like the ISS becoming “the means by which we leave our planet behind and find new places to live.” The layout is visually appealing, with plentiful drawings, diagrams, and photos to aid understanding. The physics and early historical background are at times rushed and repetitive, but the technical descriptions are unimpeachable and wonderfully complemented by accounts of the minutiae of everyday life in space. The authors have created an information-packed starting point perfect for anyone interested in space stations, but unsure where to begin. 400 color illus.
Although NASA scientists are still a long way from constructing a version of the iconic wheel-shaped space station in 2001: A Space Odyssey, since 1971, several well-designed research stations have successfully made it into orbit, from the ill-fated Skylab, which famously fell to earth after only six years, to the still operational International Space Station (ISS), launched in 1998. Weaving together history, popular culture, and aeronautical engineering details, Johnson Space Center consultant Kitmacher joins space memorabilia expert Pearlman and science fiction illustrator Miller in presenting a beautifully illustrated guide to these spectacular orbiting edifices from the past, present, and future. In seven richly informative sections, the authors look at the visionary prehistory of space stations, such as nineteenth century author Edward Everett Hale’s bizarre “brick moon,” survey the challenges behind building the Soviet Mir and ISS stations, and flash forward to images of futuristic space colonies. Covering technical breakthroughs as well as Star Trek and comic book references, their work will win high marks from space buffs and sf fans alike.
About the Author
GARY KITMACHER is the mission manager for education and outreach at the Johnson Space Center. He has played a direct and vital role in NASA's ISS program. RON MILLER is an artist and author who specializes in writing and illustrating books on astronomy, astronautics, and science fiction. He recently published Spaceships: An Illustrated History of the Real and the Imagined. He has served on the faculty of the International Space University, as contributing editor for Air & Space/Smithsonian magazines, and as art director for the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Albert Einstein Planetarium. ROBERT PEARLMAN is an American space historian and the founder and editor of collectSPACE, a website devoted to news and information concerning space exploration and space-related artifacts and memorabilia, especially in popular culture.
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As with anything, start at the beginning which is exactly what the authors have done. Starting with orbits the book takes you through the very early thinkings of such greats as Kepler and Newton and how space stations could orbit the planet to early sci-fi and the early dreams of space stations of course including the famous Disney link up with Von Braun. We go from sci-fi to early space flight, how a space station could actually get into space in the first place, the early NASA days of Mercury and Gemini and of the course the great space race with the Russians.
Throughout the course of manned space flight there has always been plans for space stations. A place to live and work orbiting the Earth, and the book details the early stations like Mir, Skylab which was launched atop a Saturn V rocket and nearly became a disaster and black mark on the American space program and of course the International Space Station (ISS). A large portion of the book is dedicated to the ISS, how it was planned, how the modules work and of course the role of the STS (space shuttle) in this.
This takes the book up to the modern day and before closing out it takes a look at future of space stations, both modern sci-fi (Star Treks Deep Space 9, Elysium etc.) to more practical and possible solutions and even ends with a brief section on commercial space flight and how it is changing things and inflatables (something NASA is currently studying).
Space Stations is truly a journey from start to the future of space stations and is absolutely packed with information. It reads extremely well and would be suited to both younger and older audiences and has plentiful color pictures and illustrations throughout the illustrate every point made. Did you know for example that a one man space station was thought about for the earliest NASA Mercury program? To be launched as part of an Atlas-Agena rocket with the Mercury spacecraft linking up with it after it had reached orbit. I didn't but this sounds eerily like the Atlas-Agena missions of the Gemini project although they didn't infact turn out be space stations.
Space Stations is a wonderful book taking covering every aspect from early thoughts to sci-fi to real life and conveys the information in an easy to read and thoroughly enjoyable manner.
You see, it’s far more than its title implies. When I saw it as an Amazon Vine program selection, I assumed it would mostly cover the assembly and operations of the International Space Station (ISS), with maybe a brief nod toward the Salyuts, Mir and Skylab as ISS precursors. I won’t say the ISS is “boring” (as a retired aerospace engineer, I find ANY book about spaceflight to be of great interest), but let’s face the facts—the endlessly orbiting (not to say “plodding”) ISS lacks the drama, excitement and crowd-pleasing panache of the early manned space missions that kept us all on the edges of our seats.
But I ordered it anyway, and I’m glad I did. I was even more pleased to find that the ISS story takes up only about the last third of “Space Stations.” The bulk of the book tracks the origin and evolution of the whole concept of the permanently staffed orbiting platform. The story starts with the earliest musings of Edward Everett Hale and Kurd Lasswitz. Then it gives brief descriptions of the major Soviet and American earth-orbital spaceflight programs, by way of a detour to look at Wernher von Braun’s “Space Wheel” and many other more fanciful designs from the pages of pop science and science fiction magazines. Unbuilt space station designs, such as the Manned Orbiting Laboratory and Krafft Ehricke’s Atlas-based station, get their share of coverage, as do the many dead-end and false-start concepts that developed over the years into today’s bright light in the sky that’s visible on clear nights to most of the earth’s population at one time or another.
Here’s a rundown of the chapters and their approximate page counts as a guide to the depth of coverage of the various topics:
- Space Stations: A Prehistory (17 pages)
- Planning to Live in Space (16 pages)
- Toward the Space Station (32 pages)
- The Early Space Stations (62 pages)
- The International Space Station (50 pages)
- The Space Station in Pop Culture (16 pages)
- The Future of the Space Station (16 pages)
With some exceptions, the authors present sub-topics within each chapter in handy, bite-sized two-page spreads of easily digestible technical and historical information, accompanied by many relevant photos, drawings and artwork. The uncorrected proof that I received to review is printed only in black-and-white; with color illustrations in the final published version, “Space Stations” is sure to be as visually stunning as it is historically and technically fascinating.
Even if you’re not a techie, space geek or geekette, you should order “Space Stations.” You’re sure to learn something from it (as I did, even though I’ve read virtually every spaceflight-related book published in the last 50 years), and that’s what it’s all about, right?
This book spans the centuries since man first dreamed of voyaging to other heavenly bodies. It's lavishly illustrated, but isn't a "coffee table book". There's a great deal of both history and science. The science is solid, but isn't too technical for the average person. I was surprised how much the early science fiction writers got right or how close they were to the future reality (considering how far ahead they were looking and how little they knew) in ways they wouldn't imagine.
It's lavishly illustrated and it gives the reader visuals to go along with the concepts. For someone who was born during and grew up with the manned space program and the race to the moon, this was very interesting and fun. This book covers past fantasies, historic steps, the first manned habitats and the current international space station. There's a look into the future too.
The only thing I didn't like is that in order to cram as many visuals as possible onto each page (a good thing), they have the text in smaller than normal size type. For those of us who use bifocals or reading glasses, this didn't enhance our reading experience! But, otherwise, this is a good book that I enjoyed and learned a lot from.