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📙 The Story of Manned Space Stations: An Introduction (Springer Praxis Books / Space Exploration) by Philip Baker — pdf free


While the first space station in American culture was described in an 1869 work of fiction in the "Atlantic Monthly," in the twentieth century the idea proliferated through all cultures as the sine qua non enabling technology for space exploration. In the latter part of the 1960s many in the leadership both of NASA and the Soviet space program realized that creating a permanent infrastructure in space held the most hope in eventually developing the capability to leave Earth permanently. In part because of a persistent vision of human destiny to explore the Solar System and the central role of a space station in facilitating this goal, studies of space station configurations had been an important part of spaceflight planning in the 1950s and 1960s. Scientists and engineers pressed for these studies because a space station met program needs for an orbital laboratory, observatory, industrial plant, launching platform, and dry-dock. For the U.S., the station was forced to the bottom of the priority heap in 1961 with the Kennedy decision to land an American on the Moon by the end of the decade. With that mandate, there was no time to develop a space station in spite of the fact that virtually everyone in NASA recognized its use for exploration beyond Earth orbit. But the U.S. and the Soviet Union continued to pursue it. The Soviets built the Almaz and Salyut stations and the Americans flew the Skylab orbital workshop in 1973-1974. Eventually the Soviets went on to build Mir and to join the International Space Station (ISS) program in the 1990s, a program that had been started through U.S. leadership in 1984. Its first elements were launch in 1998 and the first crew went aboard in 2000. Unfortunately, even as ISS became a reality, on February 1, 2003, its role was made tenuous by the loss of the Columbia space shuttle and the grounding of the fleet necessary to support its construction. On January 14, 2004, moreover, President George W. Bush announced a reorientation of the U.S. program to emphasize a return to the Moon. In that context, he advocated the retirement of the Space Shuttle by 2010 and the ending of U.S. involvement in ISS before 2020. Suddenly, the space station had become irrelevant to American efforts in space. The history of space stations and their development over time, as well as what it portends for the future of space exploration, is the subject of this book. Philip Baker has done a reasonable job assembling from other sources a general introduction to this subject. If one knows nothing about space stations, this is a useful book to help understand the basics. It is not the place to go for in-depth knowledge, nor is it even the best general introduction available. For that, look to other works, especially those mentioned in the listmania recommendations that I made entitled, "Essential Reading on the History of Space Stations." This is linked at: [...]

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