This mammoth, 1400-page, final edition of the Space Shuttle Almanac is co-authored by my son, Lee, so I'm allowed to be indulgent. I'm incredibly proud.
INTRODUCTION TO THE SPACE SHUTTLE ALMANAC
When the final sonic boom startled this author at KSC's Shuttle Landing Facility on 21 July 2011, and the orbiter Atlantis settled onto Runway 15 for the last time, the Space Shuttle Era quietly came to an end. With the final 'wheels stop' call, the magnificent orbiting machines would fly no more, sadly consigned to museums at KSC, Los Angeles and the Smithsonian.
As the saying goes, all good things come to an end - 'flames to dust' the shuttles are now permanently grounded. Critics have argued that the shuttle retirement was premature, that it should have continued in operation until commercial companies are able to pick up the slack of carrying cargo (and eventually astronaut crews) to the International Space Station. The arguments fell on deaf ears in Congress and in the Obama Administration, and the shuttle's fate was sealed.
The Final Edition of the Space Shuttle Almanac, on the other hand, is a celebration of 39 years of shuttle operational history as much as it is a final compilation of mission facts and figures, dates and times. Primary author Lee Brandon-Cremer has added an outstanding collection of images for every mission and every section to enhance the readers experience.
The Almanac's format is a digital version available as a download or on CD. This enhances the utility of the Almanac as a research tool and as a historical overview of three decades of shuttle flight operations. For the authors, the Space Shuttle Almanac has been a labour of love. It has been a 20 year commitment to document the large and small details of shuttle flights that always seemed to 'fall through the cracks' in standard shuttle histories and accounts. The authors hope that this Edition of the Space Shuttle Almanac will serve as a worthy tribute to the magnificent shuttle program.
Joel W. Powell & Lee Brandon-Cremer