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The Space Shuttle: Celebrating Thirty Years of NASA's First Space Plane    by Piers Bizony order for
Space Shuttle
by Piers Bizony
Order:  USA  Can
Zenith Press, 2011 (2011)

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* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Piers Bizony's The Space Shuttle: Celebrating Thirty Years of NASA's First Space Plane is a real show stopper. This beautifully designed pictorial history chronicles the shuttle program from early theories and various prototypes through the final flights. For over three decades the shuttles and the men and women who flew them ferried satellites and telescopes into space, conducted experiments and carried the parts that were needed to build the space station.

With the close of this chapter of the American space program, the author looks back over past shuttle missions, including the tragic losses of Challenger and Columbia. He also documents the historic construction of the International Space Station and tells the stories of some of those individuals who took the shuttle into space.

Of the 135 launches of the American space shuttle fleet, perhaps their most memorable and enduring endeavor was the role they played in the construction of the International Space Station.

'Today we have entered into a new era of human space activities: one of international exploration, driven not by Cold War competition but by the quest for knowledge and the desire to push against the limits of our scientific and technological understanding,' writes Piers Bizony. 'NASA's familiar space planes have enabled a permanent human presence aboard the greatest and most ambitious engineering artifact in history: the International Space Station.'

What makes this book a true collectors' edition is not only the overview it offers of the shuttle program but also the 900 color photos it contains. Many of them are full page spreads that detail the many different aspects of the shuttle's work. Breathtaking in nature, you'll marvel at what you are seeing and be astounded by the beauty of these historic pictures.

The author of numerous books and articles on science, aerospace and cosmology, Bizony has written 2001: Filming the Future, The Rivers of Mars, One Giant Leap, Island in the Sky: The International Space Station and Starman. His latest project, Atom, ties in with a BBC-TV series on the discovery of quantum physics.

The Kennedy Space Center, for now at least, has become a bit of a ghost town with the huge launch gantries silent and the cavernous Vertical Assembly Building empty.

Three of the surviving winged orbiters (Endeavour, Atlantis, and Discovery) are destined for museums. An exciting and historic era of space exploration has come to an end, but this book will help keep it fresh in the minds of those who were fascinated by this first major step into space. 'This is a visual celebration of a flawed yet brilliant spaceship whose kind we may never see again in our lifetimes,' explains the author. 'It is also a tribute to remarkable human bravery and commitment on the ground, as well as in space.'

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