Kennedy Space Center, or ‘Cape Canaveral’ as the media once preferred, is one of those places known to most occupants of the ‘modern world’ whether they’ve been there or not. In common with the pyramids of Giza, the White House and the Taj Mahal, the launch pads and gantries of KSC seem somehow familiar. This book, part of a large series entitled ‘Images of Modern America’, contains a collection of colour images of the KSC facilities and the rockets launched from them in a surprisingly rare celebration of that fabled place.
Following a short textual introduction, the book’s seven chapters cover the roots of NASA’s rocket programme at Cape Canaveral and the various phases of manned space exploration up to the Shuttle and the ISS. A final chapter looks at deep space exploration and the future. The design of this series is based on two colour photos per (A5-approx.) page with extended captions. The premise is that the images will carry the story, and for those with little more than a passing interest in space they will, but many readers will be left feeling that context and detail is missing.
It’s great that the series producers agreed that Kennedy Space Center is worthy of inclusion, but as a book it falls short of expectations (as, no doubt, do others in the series). What it does highlight, however, is that with all the glossy coffee-table books on the Shuttle, the Hubble and other aspects of spaceflight, a similar volume on this iconic launch site is well overdue.
Mark Williamson, Space Technology Consultant