Bakers Dozen of Important Books
the History of the Space Shuttle
Henry S. F. Before Lift-off: The Making of a Space Shuttle
Crew. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press,
1987. This book presents a fine discussion of the selection
and training of crews for individual Shuttle missions. Written
in a journalistic style without scholarly apparatus, it is an
excellent first-person account of the 1984 mission of STS-41G.
Jerry. Enterprise. New York: William Morrow and Co.,
1979. This is a popularly written book on the decision, development,
and test of the early Space Shuttle, the Orbiter 101, named
for the Star Trek craft Enterprise. Written for
a popular market, it is a fast-moving story emphasizing anecdotes,
without scholarly apparatus.
David M. The Space Shuttle: Roles, Missions and Accomplishments.
Chicester, England: Wiley-Praxis, 1998. One of the more sophisticated
histories of the Space Shuttle to appear.
T. A. The Space Shuttle Decision: NASAs Search for
a Reusable Space Vehicle. Washington, DC: NASA SP-4221,
1999. A full-length, scholarly history of the decision to develop
the Space Shuttle.
Dennis R. Space Shuttle: The History of the National Space
Transportation System, the First 100 Missions. North Branch,
MN: Speciality Press, 2001, 3rd Edition. By far the best technical
history of the Space Shuttle, presenting an overview of the
vehicles development and use.
Kerry Mark, and Greg Kennedy. Space Shuttle Operators
Manual. New York: Ballantine Books, 1986 edition. One of
the better popularly oriented illustrated histories, this work
also describes the origins and development of the Space Shuttle.
Richard S. The Last Voyage of Challenger. New York: Columbia
University Press, 1988. In a follow-on to his Voyages of
Columbia, this book presents, in a large-size format with
many illustrations, the story of the tragic loss of Challenger
The Voyages of Columbia: The First True Spaceship. New York:
Columbia University Press, 1984. Taking as its theme the idea
that the Shuttle is the first true spaceshipit can be
reused and makes access to space more routinethis combination
scholarly/popular book is a good rendition of the development
and use of the Columbia orbiter. A large-format, well-written
book, this work has numerous photographs and illustrations,
as well as scholarly notes. There is much discussion of development
and testing, procedures for operations such as solid-rocket
booster use and recovery, and a detailed account of each mission.
Probably the best book of its type, its focus and theme are
limited to a single orbiter and its role in the space program.
Malcolm. Challenger: A Major Malfunction. Garden City,
NY: Doubleday and Co., 1987. This book is one of several exposés
of NASAs Shuttle development and operations management
that appeared following the Challenger accident.
Melvyn. An Illustrated History of the Space Shuttle.
Sommerset, England: Haynes Pub. Group, 1985. This large-sized
picture book is oriented toward satisfying the popular market.
Almost half of it is concerned with earlier high-speed, high-altitude
flight as a means of paving the way for the Shuttle. It recites
and publishes photographs of early aircraft such as the X-1,
the X-15, and lifting body studies before going into a discussion
of the Shuttle. This discussion focuses on the technological
development of the orbiter, especially the test and evaluation.
A chapter is then devoted to each of the Shuttle orbiters built,
dealing with their procurement, construction, test and evaluation,
and mission performance. There is a useful set of appendices
discussing each of the X-15, M2F2, HL-10, X-24, M2F3, and Shuttle
flights. There are no references.
William, and John Noble Wilford. Spaceliner: Report on Columbias
Voyage into Tomorrow. New York: Times Books, 1981. This
is a popular discussion of the development and flight of the
first Shuttle mission, Columbia, in 1981. It is heavy
on fast-paced narrative and anecdotes and light on documentation.
It keeps the human element of the story in the forefront, and
while there is some discussion of technological developments,
those are certainly subservient to the good story the authors
try to tell.
Joseph J., with reporting and editing by Susan B. Trento. Prescription
for Disaster: From the Glory of Apollo to the Betrayal of the
Shuttle. New York: Crown Publishers, 1987. Not truly an
investigation of the Challenger accident, this book is
an in-depth review of the NASA management and R&D system,
emphasizing the Agencys fall from grace after
the Apollo program.
Diane. The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology,
Culture, and Deviance at NASA. Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1996. The first thorough scholarly study of the events
leading to the fateful decision to launch Challenger
in January 1986, this book uses sociological and communication
theory to piece together the story of Americas worst disaster
in spaceflight and to analyze the nature of risk in high technology
April 5, 2001
Steven J. Dick NASA Chief Historian
Steve Garber, NASA History Web Curator
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by Douglas Ortiz and edited by Lisa Jirousek
NASA Printing and