When Haynes began to publish Owners’ Workshop Manuals for aircraft, it was an imaginative approach, following the format of their world famous vehicle Owners’ Workshop Manuals. Inevitably, the finished product did not provide the detail of the vehicle manuals. It was stretching the imagination to expect an aircraft owner to be able to carry out a complete servicing routine, using only the Haynes Manual. Given the history and the technology that led to the Space Shuttle, production of a 196 page book that does justice to the subject is a major achievement. The first 50 pages provide an effective and very well illustrated history leading to the Space Shuttle. The remaining pages provide an equally effective look at the technology and launches have been put together and how astronauts have lived in the Shuttle.
NAME: NASA Space Shuttle, 1981 onwards (all models) Owners Workshop Manual
CLASSIFICATION: Book reviews
AUTHOR: David baker
PUBLISHER: Haynes Publishing
BINDING: Hard back
PRICE: GB £19.99
DESCRIPTION: When Haynes began to publish Owners’ Workshop Manuals for aircraft, it was an imaginative approach, following the format of their world famous vehicle Owners’ Workshop Manuals. Inevitably, the finished product did not provide the detail of the vehicle manuals. It was stretching the imagination to expect an aircraft owner to be able to carry out a complete servicing routine, using only the Haynes Manual. However, the new manuals provided considerable technical detail, excellent illustration with photographs and drawings, and included an effective history of the subject. As a technical overview and history, the first of these manuals was a great success and was to be followed by a regular flow of new topics. When the publisher issued a manual for the Apollo it looked as though the concept might unravel because of the great complexity of the elements that made up an Apollo space vehicle, lunar lander and launch vehicle. The result was surprisingly good and delivered a very effective history and technical overview that was both concise and comprehensive. Publishing a manual for the Space Shuttle as the last launches were being prepared must have created a number of challenges in adequately representing such a complex engineering structure with all the attendant systems and services. Once again, the result is excellent. The Shuttle program is captured in all of its parts. The NASA manned space program has demonstrated the advantages and weaknesses of the United States’ approach to challenges and opportunities. Having ignored the pioneering efforts of its own rocket engineers before World war Two, and having also ignored the jet engine, the US suddenly woke up to the dangers of the nuclear weapons being launched by jet aeroplanes and ballistic missiles. The response was to establish a special group to round up German engineers and scientists in the rubble of 1945 Germany and to seize as much jet and rocket technology as possible for study in the US. The captured Germans and their deigns and equipment were combined with technology donated by Great Britain during World War Two. Having acquired all these amazing people, designs and materials, the US was not really sure what to do with them. The Germans wanted to build bigger and more powerful rockets to produce terrifying weapons and to provide the means to explore space. The result was to be wasted years until the launch of Sputnik, and then the orbiting of the Earth by Gagarin, demonstrated how dangerously in advance the Russian space program was. This caused a crash program to be instituted to launch satellites and astronauts. The initial results were modest and it took several launches to catch up. Then the program to land a man on the Moon provided a focus. The Apollo programme was largely the child of German rocket scientist von Braun and was based on building huge rockets. It followed the philosophy of the “New York” rocket that was being designed as the Second World War drew to a close. This was the first Inter Continental Ballistic Missile to be designed and would have been devastating had the Germans being able to launch nuclear tipped versions directly at the US. The concept was to work towards assembly in low Earth orbit before firing to orbit the Moon and then carry out a landing. As the rocket and payload rose from the launch pad, sections would be deliberately discarded to reduce unnecessary weight. The remaining components that were to head for the Moon were assembled in Earth orbit, before the rocket motor fired and took the assembly to the Moon. All that remained at this point was a single rocket motor to take the assembly to and from the Moon and provide life support for the three man crew, the lunar lander and the crew capsule. The two part lander was not required to be aerodynamic and had launched enclosed behind the command module. In lunar orbit, the lander was detached, leaving the command model to continue in orbit. Having landed and completed its mission, part of the lander was launched to rejoin the command module, leaving behind the part that acted as the landing platform and launch pad for the return of the other lander component. The command module fired its motor to head for the Earth and before re-entry, all remaining items were discarded before the tiny conical capsule was rotated and re-entry was begun. If everything went to plan, the astronauts in their capsule would begin a parachute descent in Earth atmosphere, landing at sea close to a waiting Task Force of USN vessels. The space capsule would have lost its ablative layer that was deliberately sacrificed to keep the capsule and astronauts from burning up during re-entry. Of all the costly technology that was fired at the start of the mission virtually nothing remained at the end and what was left was not capable of economic re-use. It can and has been argued that manned space flight achieves little beyond propaganda and much more is accomplished by robot spacecraft. There is much truth in this, but without the human space spectaculars, there is not the public interest to encourage politicians to send vast sums of money on something that has no direct objective that most people can understand. As a result, the Apollo program was running out of news interest until the near disaster of Apollo 13 which gripped a huge world tv audience as the astronauts battled to return to Earth alive. The program terminated before its original number of planned launches and massive staff layoffs followed. The Space Shuttle was seized by NASA as justification for a continuing manned space program. Developed from extensive studies of lifting bodies, the Space Shuttle was over-sold on the concept of re-use. The practice was to demonstrate a lower level of re-use than originally planned, but the two booster rockets and external fuel tank were the only items discarded before reaching orbit and they were intended to be recovered and re-manufactured. The Shuttle itself was most of the main assembly and was expected to return to earth as a large glider. Once landed safely, the shuttle was to be checked repaired and serviced as necessary and then mated to booster rockets and external fuel tank for relaunch on a subsequent mission. The perception was that the Space Shuttle fleet would see a program of frequent launching into low Earth orbit as part of a program to build a space station in orbit. Taken over the full program, to the final launch of STS-135, the Space Shuttle has achieved a remarkable safety record and operational service. Considering that this is a very complex pioneering program, the loss of only two shuttles and their crews is outstanding. The first loss resulted from quality control weaknesses in the construction of booster rockets. The second loss resulted from the loss of heat tiles, believed damaged by a lightning strike before launch. The tiles were always the most questionable part of the design. As they had to be able to expand and contract during a flight, each tile was designed and built as a unique item and attached to the shuttle hull with adhesive, absorbing heat during re-entry without being sacrificially destroyed in the manner of ablative shields on earlier US spacecraft. Given the history and the technology that led to the Space Shuttle, production of a 196 page book that does justice to the subject is a major achievement. The first 50 pages provide an effective and very well illustrated history leading to the Space Shuttle. The remaining pages provide an equally effective look at the technology and launches have been put together and how astronauts have lived in the Shuttle. This manual lives up to the standard previously set by the publisher for earlier aerospace manuals. Illustration is outstanding and this is a very fitting commemorative book on the Space Shuttle program which should sell extremely well. As STS-135 prepares for a July 2011 launch, the program is ending in much the same way as Apollo before it. Massive redundancies are taking place as President Obama focuses on his re-election campaign and desperately attempts to reign in the US sovereign debt. Manned space flight has not ended for the US, but it will have to go cap in hand to other countries to hitch a ride to the International Space Station that is now effectively in the hands of the Russians. As Russia, China and India prepare to build colonies on the Moon and on Mars. The US is preparing to put in place a new spacecraft that resembles the Apollo crew capsule and requires a largely consumable launch system. USAAF trials continue with a shuttle-like robot system that is designed for rapid launch and is believed to be intended only as a robot system for space warfare. At the moment of triumph as the Space Shuttle proved effective as a delivery system and base for astronauts to build a space station in orbit, the US lost interest and failed to put in place a follow-on program with a spacecraft that could operate like a jet plane in Earth atmosphere. For anyone reading this new Haynes Workshop Manual, the lost opportunities are there to see alongside the achievements, without requiring the experience of a rocket scientist.