Station Watching

1 min read

Reference Guide to the International Space Station

Edited by Gary Kitmacher; Apogee Press, Burlington, Ont., Canada; US $22; ISBN 978-1-894959-34-6

While visionaries contemplate the next generation of space stations [see ”Putting Up the Ritz,” in this month’s Spectrum Online], the fact remains that the current example of the orbital state of the art, the International Space Station, is still only half complete. One of the biggest engineering projects of all time, the station’s construction slowed to a halt following the loss of the space shuttle Columbia in 2003, but assembly flights have now resumed. Keeping track of all the pieces—what’s in orbit, what’s waiting on the ground, what hasn’t been built yet, what’s getting moved to which temporary position—can be a daunting task.ï»'

To the rescue comes the Reference Guide to the International Space Station, edited by Gary Kitmacher, a senior NASA manager. Originally published by NASA as a ”special publication,” it is now available to the general public, thanks to Apogee Press.

Image: Apogee Books

IEEE Spectrum doesn’t normally review reference books, but this slim volume deserves to be an exception. Packed with colorful, carefully annotated and detailed illustrations and photographs, the guide makes it easy to track both past and planned ISS evolution. It also clearly describes major station systems, along with the ï»'organizations and facilities worldwide that make the station possible. Next time you read about a mission to the orbital outpost and find yourself wondering just what on earth a ”P5 truss” is and why the astronauts seem so enthusiastic about getting one, turn to Kitmacher’s handy guide.—S.C.

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