The Space Shuttle Program

How NASA Lost Its Way

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SKU: 9780786434343 Categories: , ,

About the Book

This critical study of NASA’s space shuttle program provides an in-depth examination of the events, decisions, and policies that may have contributed to the horrific destruction of the shuttles Challenger and Columbia. It first traces the early development of NASA’s shuttle program, specifically examining the problems associated with the designs of shuttles OV-099 (which was to become Challenger) and OV-102 (which was to become Columbia).
The reader is then taken through a detailed look at the first successful flights made by Challenger and Columbia and the cancellation of top-secret Shuttle flight 51-C (which would have launched under nearly identical weather conditions as the ill-fated Challenger). An in-depth assessment of the shuttles’ disastrous final launches follows, including detailed accounts of the post-flight search and rescue operations, the official investigations into each accident, and the impact of each disaster on the future of NASA’s manned space program.

About the Author(s)

R. Michael Gordon is the author of several books, and has written extensively on Victorian London and the Ripper phenomenon. He lives in Long Beach, California.

Bibliographic Details

R. Michael Gordon
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 354
Bibliographic Info: 85 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3434-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction      1

SECTION I. PROBLEMS IN DEVELOPMENT

One. In the Beginning      5

Two. A History of Success? The Solids      39

SECTION II. COUNTDOWN TO DISASTER

Three. 51-C: Too Cold for the Military      55

Four. 1985 Was Not a Good Year      68

Five. Pre-Flight: Dangers Not Seen      84

SECTION III. CHALLENGER’S FINAL MISSION

Six. A Cold Morning Like No Other      93

Seven. The Final Ascent: The Flight of Challenger      106

Eight. Post-Flight Operations      129

SECTION IV. INVESTIGATIONS AND RECOVERY

Nine. The Challenger Investigation      153

Ten. Unanswered Questions: Beyond the Commission      171

Eleven. Recovery for Flight? STS-26      179

SECTION V. FROM CHALLENGER TO COLUMBIA

Twelve. Beyond the Recovery: Was It Really Fixed?      199

Thirteen. The Fall of Space Shuttle Columbia      210

Fourteen. On the Road Again      236

SECTION VI. THE FUTURE OF MANNED SPACEFLIGHT

Fifteen. A Look to the Future      247

Appendix I. Shuttle Flights Pre-Challenger Disaster      253

Appendix II. The Flights of Columbia      263

Appendix III. The Mission and Crew of Challenger 51-L      267

Appendix IV. The Crew of Columbia STS-107      278

Appendix V. Personal Observations on the Reliability of the Shuttle by Dr. Richard P. Feynman      280

Appendix VI. The Columbia Emails: Opportunities Missed      288

Appendix VII. Mission 51-L Press Kit      296

Abbreviations and Definitions      317

Chapter Notes      321

Bibliography      331

Index      341

Book Reviews & Awards

“an in-depth examination”—Spaceflight.