From: Atlanta, GA, USA
Registered: Feb 2007
posted 10-27-2014 09:07 AM
Book review - The Pursuit of the Phoenix by John-Allen Price.
This book from 1990 is a fast paced page turner. It tells a story about concurrent US, Russian and Chinese missions that result in space debris creating a problem for others. Both the people on orbit and on the ground are examined for their scientific, political and personal motives. While some characters are thinly developed, I found the story interesting and read the book quickly. Also, the book opens with a newspaper report under the byline of Lance Pearlman - very appropriate to this forum.
If you are a stickler for engineering accuracy you will be disappointed in the book. However this is not a documentary, so if you can suspend your need for accuracy you will find the story more interesting. However there was one glaring inconsistency that bothered me.
The Shuttle's OMS engines are used frequently throughout the book - to initiate reentry, accelerate from reentry back to orbit, change orbits, rendezvous etc. So when, near the end of the book, the Pilot asks for an OMS burn to start another reentry, someone says "Wait a minute - those can only be used on ascent". As I said this was a bit hard to accept given what came before. Otherwise this story is a good space-based diversion for a few hours.
Perhaps the best part of the book is the author's (fictional) idea of a tribute to the crew of STS-51L Challenger (this was written before the Columbia was lost). SPOILER BELOW.
The author imagines life size figures of the crew on the ocean edge of CCAFS, in their blue flight suits with their heads looking up and some arms stretched toward the sky. A very moving image of their sacrifice - in my opinion anyway.