garwel

Books about space exploration

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I want to read (for my own entertainment and learning) some quality non-fiction literature about the history and future of space exploration. I'm mostly interested in technical, but not too hardcore stuff: how missions are planned, launchers and spacecraft designed, what are choices engineers face etc. There are quite a few books on Amazon on this subject, but most of them deal with very few favorite topics (Apollo or Space Shuttle programs or SpaceX) while I'd prefer something more universal.

What are your favorite books?

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Well I’d say my favourite is A Man on the Moon by Andrew Chaikin but, as you can probably guess, it’s about Apollo, so maybe not what you’re looking for. So:

Packing for Mars by Mary Roach is a rather different look at human spaceflight, with the emphasis very much on the human. Everything you wanted to know about handling bodily functions in zero-G - and probably quite a bit that you didn’t. :)

Space Race by Deborah Cadbury is a fairly light touch coverage of well... the space race, starting from the end of World War 2 and ending with Apollo. Sweeping scope rather than tremendous amounts of detail but some interesting bits and pieces from the Soviet side, Gagarin’s flight and such.

 

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22 hours ago, Stone Blue said:

This is definitely a good resource, though requires some searching. For a somewhat narrower focus, I'd also suggest The Design and Engineering of Curiosity: How the Mars Rover Performs Its Job, and Taming Liquid Hydrogen (a RL10/Centaur history). For the Soviet side of things, The Difficult Road to Mars, and Don Mitchell's website.I'd like to link a bunch of David Portree's books, but history.nasa.gov and the like seem to make it really hard to do a search if I don't know the title? https://history.nasa.gov/tindex.htm at least has lots of stuff, as does https://history.nasa.gov/series95.html.

 

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Its somewhat dark, but since you express an interest in the practical reality, the Challenger and Columbia NASA accident reports (and related documentation) are extremely interesting and are quite easy to find with a bit of googling. (tip: enter "filetype:pdf", without quotes, as an extra search term to only return PDF documents)

Here's one I found quickly, the CAIB, the Columbia Accident Investigation Board working scenario:

http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/caib/news/working_scenario/pdf/sts107workingscenario.pdf

 

Study of failures is, unarguably, equally as important as studying how to succeed, in many cases more knowledge can be gleaned from failure.

There is of course, a near infinite amount more that can be said/expressed about this subject, but that is not the purpose of this comment.

(RIP to all those who perished in these tragic accidents)

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