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Return to Flight: Space Shuttle Discovery

By John Lester - images & text © 2006

Type: Softcover, 108pp, ISBN: 1-58007-104-X, by Dennis R. Jenkins & Jorge R. Frank
MSRP: $16.95 USD (~$19.26 CAN/ 13.34 EUR) available from Specialty Press
Overall Rating: 10 - a treasure trove of visual reference

Whenever an aerospace program is grounded for a prolonged period, the first flight after the grounding is often called the Return-to-Flight. Thirty months after Challenger's loss, NASA launched the Space Shuttle Program's Return-to-Flight using Discovery.


This flight was the most photographed Space Shuttle flight ever, with numerous cameras on the ground, ships, and aircraft tracking the vehicle during ascent, and the crew of the International Space Station taking a series of detailed photographs as the Orbiter approached the ISS. In addition, the crew of Discovery used cameras in the cockpit and on a long, robotic arm to examine almost every inch of the Orbiter. The result was some stunning photography that shows the Space Shuttle in ways that have never before been seen.

Continuing their series of excellent photojournals devoted to aerospace subjects, Specialty Press have published David R. Jenkins' /Jorge R Frank's Return to Flight: Space Shuttle Discovery, in which many of those images are presented.

What You Get

The soft-bound book is comprised of 108 pages with 350 full color photographs. It comprehensively covers the entire mission, from planning to touchdown, witha brief look at the next planned mission. Chapters include:
  • Introduction
  • RTF-1 ... STS-114 (overview of the mission)
  • The Training
  • Vehicle Processing
  • Finally, Launch
  • Approaching the ISS
  • Rbar Pitch Maneuver
  • Visiting the ISS
  • Spacewalks
  • Going Home
  • ISS Flyaround
  • The Alternatives
  • Landing in California
  • Back in Florida
  • RTF-2 ... STS 121

Each stage of the mission starts with a brief explanation of what happened and is followed by a huge number of well-captioned photographs. Everything is covered; not only is this book a visual reference of extraordinary value on the Space Shuttle Discovery, but of the ISS, spacesuits, satellites, transport and launching systems, crew, 'weathering' in space ... you name it, there's a picture of it.


Return to Flight: Space Shuttle Discovery is well worth picking up simply for the in-depth look at a Shuttle mission. For scale modelers interested in space subjects (or sci-fi subjects that operate in space), it's a must-have addition to the reference library. I've read through the book three times now and I'm still finding neat stuff.

Very highly recommended!

Many thanks to the folks at Specialty Press for the review sample.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the reviewer.
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This page copyright © 2006 Starship Modeler™. First posted on 26 July 2006.