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  Space Shuttle Decision, 1965-1972 (Heppenheimer)

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Author Topic:   Space Shuttle Decision, 1965-1972 (Heppenheimer)

Posts: 383
From: Hudson, MA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 04-26-2007 11:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just started reading "The Space Shuttle Decision: 1965-1972" by T. Heppenheimer. It seems well written and very in-depth.

I've only started but it seems to go off on some tangential subjects but I suppose its hard to know how much context/perspective is needed to really tell the story. Anyone else read it?

Space Shuttle Decision, 1965-1972
by T.A. Heppenheimer

Heppenheimer looks back at the shuttle's technical antecedents such as the X-15 rocket plane and rocket booster technologies, and illuminates the principal personalities involved in the space shuttle decision and their motivations.

He traces NASA's evolving programme goals, the technical calculations, political maneuvering, and fiscal constraints, and explains the myriad designs that preceded the shuttle concept.

In closing, he looks in detail at the circumstances leading to the politically charged development decision of 1972.

  • Paperback: 488 pages
  • Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press (May 17, 2002)
  • ISBN-10: 1588340147
  • ISBN-13: 978-1588340146


Posts: 1006
From: Carrollton, GA USA
Registered: Jan 2003

posted 04-27-2007 02:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Gilbert   Click Here to Email Gilbert     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I read it 3 or 4 years ago. I remember that the book was difficult to read and a little dry, but informative. The convoluted political process the shuttle program endured is what I remember most.

Dwayne Day

Posts: 532
Registered: Feb 2004

posted 04-30-2007 08:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dwayne Day   Click Here to Email Dwayne Day     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'll confess to not reading it, but I have used it as reference and found it less useful than I had hoped. Heppenheimer is a quirky guy (to say the least). Some of his magazine articles are outstanding, and at times he has a great ability to turn a phrase. With the two shuttle books, however, I thought he was not at his best.

I found the footnoting/referencing to be rather weak. It was hard to track down specific information in the books. I also thought that he had a very superficial account of the military role and interest in the shuttle.

But I acknowledge that I tend to use books differently than the general public. I often use them as references and I am therefore very interested in details and accuracy and concerned that a claim made in a book can be traced to a specific source.


Posts: 4608
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 04-30-2007 10:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's a tough read. I started reading a couple of years ago but didn't finish mainly because there are so many issues involved... But I'll pick it up again once I can get focused on this book only (and the second volume). English not being my mother tongue didn't help.


Posts: 383
From: Hudson, MA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 04-30-2007 11:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It has good info, it just seems to me that it covers too many subjects in the cause of trying to give perspective. He has an entire chapter on the aerospace industry recession of the early 70s where he goes into great detail overe the entire Lockheed L-1011/Rolls Royce RB-211 debacle. Intersting, but what really did it have to do with the space shuttle?


Posts: 311
From: Northampton UK
Registered: Nov 2009

posted 05-23-2014 02:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kite     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When I attended the Ken Mattingly lecture in Pontefract recently I was fortunate enough to have a winning raffle ticket. By the time mine was drawn quite a few of the prizes had gone and with what was left I chose this book. At first I thought the reading might be a bit heavy and dull but I was so wrong.

It is a mine of information and has certainly changed my mind about some of the people involved in making the decision. The political and financial shenanigans going on was mind blowing and it is a wonder that NASA finished up with the vehicle it had.

In my opinion Caspar Weinberger deserves much credit for his support and surprisingly, for me, so does President Nixon. I was always of the opinion that he only tolerated the Space programme, and he probably did, but in the end he decided to go for it against a lot of advice. Also he still kept Apollo's 16 and 17 going on a very tight fiscal year budget so full marks to him.

The research into the different designs for the space plane and proposed engines is fascinating and especially the launch systems too.

I have not yet ordered the two new Outward Odyssey volumes on the space shuttle but will do so soon and will be interested to see if this book was used for reference. It does not deal with the flights but purely on the decision whether to have a shuttle, if so of what type or to pursue a different space agenda entirely. Highly recommended if you can find a copy.

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