America in Space: NASA's First Fifty Years

Robert Jacobs, Author, Bertram Ulrich, Author, Steven Dick, Author , et al., foreword by Neil Armstrong; published in collaboration with NASA. Abrams $50 (352p) ISBN 978-0-8109-9373-0

The most memorable photographs from America's recent explorations of space have been taken by the Hubble space telescope and the Huygens mission to Saturn. But as the editors of this lavishly illustrated coffee-table volume demonstrate, in the early years of the space program, the camera's blinking eye captured human beings. Dick, NASA's chief historian, and his NASA colleagues offer images of the crew-cut young hot rods of the Mercury and Gemini programs before they became household names, along with a young test pilot named Neil Armstrong in 1956 operating a simulator of the X-15 hypersonic aircraft. Photographs capture the grandeur of the mammoth Saturn rockets blasting off, as well as the tragedy of the fire-charred Apollo 1 capsule. NASA's engineers and technicians receive their due, shown putting equipment and astronauts through their paces. In the post-Apollo years, the almost forgotten Skylab is memorialized, as well as missions to build the International Space Station and the space shuttle program. The book concludes with pictures of the outer reaches of the solar system and stunning vistas light-years away. NASA staff have annotated the photographs with informative miniessays documenting the history of the agency and its mission. Space buffs and their children will thrill to these photos. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 09/17/2007
Release date: 10/01/2007
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