NASA project manager Kitmacher, science writer Miller (Aliens: Past, Present, Future), and space historian Pearlman deliver a generously illustrated crash course in the history, present, and future of space stations. After describing early cosmology, the authors move through the first theoretical and fictional descriptions of permanent space-based structures, the early days of space travel, the first working stations, and a longer look at the International Space Station. A section on space stations’ depiction in pop culture, from German author Karl Laffert’s 1926 novel about a “Weltraumstation” to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, provides an intriguing perspective, and the authors finish with the possible implications for humanity, such as outposts like the ISS becoming “the means by which we leave our planet behind and find new places to live.” The layout is visually appealing, with plentiful drawings, diagrams, and photos to aid understanding. The physics and early historical background are at times rushed and repetitive, but the technical descriptions are unimpeachable and wonderfully complemented by accounts of the minutiae of everyday life in space. The authors have created an information-packed starting point perfect for anyone interested in space stations, but unsure where to begin. 400 color illus.
Although NASA scientists are still a long way from constructing a version of the iconic wheel-shaped space station in 2001: A Space Odyssey, since 1971, several well-designed research stations have successfully made it into orbit, from the ill-fated Skylab, which famously fell to earth after only six years, to the still operational International Space Station (ISS), launched in 1998. Weaving together history, popular culture, and aeronautical engineering details, Johnson Space Center consultant Kitmacher joins space memorabilia expert Pearlman and science fiction illustrator Miller in presenting a beautifully illustrated guide to these spectacular orbiting edifices from the past, present, and future. In seven richly informative sections, the authors look at the visionary prehistory of space stations, such as nineteenth century author Edward Everett Hale’s bizarre “brick moon,” survey the challenges behind building the Soviet Mir and ISS stations, and flash forward to images of futuristic space colonies. Covering technical breakthroughs as well as Star Trek and comic book references, their work will win high marks from space buffs and sf fans alike.