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Book Review: Rockets and People: The Moon Race (Volume IV)

Rockets and People: The Moon Race (Volume IV) by Boris Chertok; NASA History Program Office; Washington, D.C.; Note: Available as free E-book (also Government Printing Office, Hard Cover); $79.00; 2012.

This is the last volume of a four-volume set of memoirs by the Russian spacecraft designer, Boris Chertok. He worked under the former Soviet Union’s chief designer for space, Sergey Korolev. The series editor is noted space historian, Asif Siddiqi, an associate professor of history at Fordham University.

The book continues a captivating narrative on the history of the Soviet space program, with this volume covering 1968 to 1974, the peak years of the Soviet human lunar program.

A central theme to this volume is documenting the origins and development of the Soviet Union’s huge N-1 booster – the launcher meant to be a counterpart to the American Saturn V. Chertok takes the reader on a word tour of just how colossal an effort the engineering of N-1 became, along with details on the succession of failed launches of the giant rocket.

Furthermore, Chertok provides absorbing insights into the Soviet moon landing program, particularly work on the Lunar Vehicle (LK), the Soviet version of the American Apollo Lunar Module.

The author also spotlights new details about the Soyuz 11 depressurization accident which killed three cosmonauts, the Almaz and Salyut space stations, and the Energiya-Buran Space Shuttle.

This is a must-have book — along with the other volumes — that yield an insider’s up-close look at Soviet space advancement over the decades. Loaded with photos, references and notes, this entire series is an invaluable contribution to space history – foundational volumes that give the reader a firm foothold on the past but also provide a sense of how much remains to be done in pushing beyond low Earth orbit.

To read this book in pdf format, go to:

http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4110/vol4.pdf

Also, go to:

http://www.nasa.gov/connect/ebooks/rockets_people_vol4_detail.html

By Leonard David

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