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Space Shuttle Launch System 1975-2004 Review

By Robert Merrill - © 2004

Type: Softcover, 48 pp, ISBN: 1-841766917, by Mark Lardas, Illustrated by Ian Palmer
MSRP: $14.95 USD (~$ 19.48 CAN/ 12.11 EUR ) available from MBI Publishing Company
Overall Rating: 8 - some great information but short on modeler specific information.

First off, let me say that this is a spiffy book. It is well laid out, is nicely written, and has color pictures and 3D illustrations.

The book starts by talking about the origins of the shuttle program and the outright lies that were told by NASA to Congress to get the project funded. Even then, they had to cancel all their other projects to get it off the ground.


[Cockpit and flight deck]

^ Many illustrations (cockpit and flight deck shown here - size intentioanlly reduced) are big, detailed and well-executed

Image: Others, such as these orbiter profiles (also reduced for this review) are less helpfull to the scale modeler.

A lot of this information was new to me, but I am far from being a expert on current space exploration. The book then delves into the development of the shuttle, its various incarnations and the various other nations' attempts at a similar space plane.

One of the things I found very handy was the listing of Shuttles and their specific configuration. The differences between some of the shuttles are very slight, but rather large between others. For those who are wanting to build a specific shuttle, this information will come in handy. I do wish they had some detail on the differences between the 3 types of external tank and the changes made to the booster rocket braces after the Challenger accident though.

Also explained is the mission launch numbering systems. If you who have always wondered why the number sequence is off some times, well, now you'll know why.

Now, as to the illustrations, I'll be honest with you. Some of them are quite frankly useless. The "Profiles of Orbiters" page has a layout of 4 of the shuttles, but are so small that the variances in detail are lost. There is a reason for line drawings and I think this book could have greatly been improved by replacing a number of the shaded & colored illustrations with line drawings. But then again, I like line drawings.


So, what's good and what's bad? This is a good basic book on the Space Shuttle and while it has some intriguing ideas for modelers it is a little short on picture references, and many of their illustrations have little detail. Not that this is a horrible book, it's a good introduction to the subject -- but you'll need to go elsewhere for more detailed information and pictures.

But it does have color photographs.

Many thanks to MBI Publishing for providing the review sample - you may this book and many more titles at their website. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 3500+ readers a day? Contact us!

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the reviewer.
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This page copyright © 2004 Starship Modeler™. First posted on 20 October 2004.