Reviewing Haynes’ new ‘Owners’ Workshop Manual’ for the various models of Nasa’s Gemini spacecraft in the current issue of E&T, Mark Williamson welcomes the recognition it gives to the projects that laid the engineering groundwork for the much more celebrated Apollo missions.
Although small (you could pack six or seven Gemini capsules into a Space Shuttle payload bay), it was America’s first ‘real spacecraft’, as this manual clearly shows… As one would expect from a modern-day Haynes guide, it is illustrated with line drawings based on the Nasa originals and an excellent set of nicely printed colour photographs.
Gemini isn’t the only subject covered in a series of recent new titles from Haynes that will leave space technology enthusiasts spoilt for choice. Also getting the Owners’ Manual treatment are the Soyuz craft developed by the USSR in the heat of the 1960s space race and still operating today, and a practical history of rocket technology.
Dr David Baker, who worked with Nasa between 1965 and 1990 and visited Russian space facilities several times during the 1980s, describes how Soyuz evolved from as successor to the Vostok-era capsules which carried early cosmonauts into space to become one of the most versatile spacecraft ever built, serving many roles across five decades.
And in a foreword, first Brit in space Dr Helen Sharman writes about her own experience on board Soyuz and affection for the craft.
You could describe Soyuz as a workhorse. I remember it as my home for a couple of days and my safe retreat in case of an emergency on board Mir. I hope that history will accord Soyuz the respect it deserves. It is flexible, adaptable and has sustained several generations of development. For this and its reliable, constant support of a range of activities that are themselves internationally significant, Soyuz deserves regal status.
David Baker is also responsible for the text accompanying the stunning images in a manual that takes the characteristic Haynes Motoring Manual approach of breaking down the most complicated motoring jobs into easily understood steps and applies it to rocket science. He describes the book as
…partly a history of how rocket technology came to be developed and how it expanded and evolved, first through the arms race, then the space race and latterly by the race for commercial success in a world increasingly dominated by satellites in orbit around the Earth.
With almost 300 illustrations, cutaway drawings and graphics, the Rocket Manual describes not only the history, but the capabilities of a family of space launchers which underpin the achievements of a space-faring world.
Nasa Gemini Owners’ Workshop Manual by David Woods and David M Harland, RRP £22.99, ISBN 9780857334213
Soyuz Owners’ Workshop Manual: 1967 Onwards (All Models) by David Baker, RRP £21.99, ISBN 9780857334053.
Rocket (1942 onwards) Owners’ Workshop Manual by David Baker, £22.99, ISBN 9780857333711
All published by Haynes. Details from www.haynes.co.uk