REYNOLDS, DAVID WEST. Kennedy Space Center: Gateway to Space, Firefly Books: Toronto, September 12, 2006. $40.00 hardcover. 248 pp. Over 150 color and black & white photographs. ISBN-10: 1554070392 ISBN-13: 978-1554070398 Kennedy Space Center at Amazon.com
Kennedy Space Center: Gateway to Space is a lavishly illustrated insider's tour of the great American space launch sites on the Florida coast, written by Phaeton director David West Reynolds. This is the ninth book by Reynolds and his second on space history. Beautiful color photographs fill the volume, but the book's deeper value is in its engaging presentation of the history that produced these facilities and its clear presentation of exactly what it takes to send large rockets into space.
A First-Hand Phaeton Perspective
Research for the project included a Phaeton mission to Kennedy Space Center for extensive examinations of the facilities and launch pads. Mechanical engineer Hugh Williams contributed his special expertise to the project as a member of the field team, illuminating the operational and mechanical concerns involved in the launch systems and providing constant assistance in interpreting every feature of interest at the sprawling launch complex. Together the team explored the installations and equipment that sends shuttles into orbit, and which once sent Apollo crews to the Moon. NASA helpfully afforded the Phaeton team virtually complete access to the operations at KSC, from the space shuttle orbiter hangars to the chambers beneath the launch pad at 39A, where Neil Armstrong's Apollo 11 lifted off for the Moon in July 1969.
Reynolds also tracked down and interviewed engineers from NASA's glory days, as well as surviving members of the Rocket Team organized by Wernher von Braun, who laid the foundations for space exploration by establishing many of the launch procedures and technologies still in use today. Reynolds' first-hand experience with the people and the facilities of America's space launch history is reflected throughout the book in detailed descriptions and an informed perspective. Gateway to Space has won critical praise, including a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Smithsonian Air & Space magazine gave the book a full page in its January 2007 issue.
"Reynolds's work is full of elegant descriptions and compelling details that highlight the vast technology and the indomitable human spirit... The author handles even the most controversial issues well... Technical explanations of the Center's facilities as well as the rockets and space shuttles are detailed enough for science buffs yet simple enough for everyone.... The insider's view of the hard work and dedication of all the people involved gives the text energy and depth."--
Barnes and Noble
"While the photos are good, the prose is better. David West Reynolds interweaves descriptions of the facility with a history of the space program that's concise, elegant and moving."--Bill Peschel
"...it's to Reynolds's credit that he chooses not to gloss over the program's troubling dependence on former Nazi engineers, presenting the story of America's space race with the Soviets in its full post-war context. Nor does Reynolds shrink from the disasters--the fire aboard Apollo 1 and the loss of two space shuttles--and the carelessness and pennywise cost-cutting that caused them... Chapter 12, which follows along as the space shuttle is prepared for launch, is worth the cover price alone."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"...[Reynolds'] best value is imparting a sense of the procedures for launching a rocket. This a refreshing difference from the usual space book's emphasis on missions and astronauts... Accenting the prosaic over the glamorous, Reynolds paints an appealing portrait of the physical installations behind the drama of ignition and liftoff."--Gilbert Taylor for the American Library Association, Booklist
Firefly Books press release for Kennedy Space Center