As we approach the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, this is a great time to download a free eBook from NASA! Rockets, Missiles, and Spacecraft of the National Air and Space Museum Smithsonian Institution by Lynne C. Murphy explores a sampling of the “array of fascinating and complex machines” that have been preserved at the Air and Space Museum.
There is an obvious relationship between aeronautics and astronautics since the same principles of physics apply and many materials and techniques of construction are common. Nevertheless, in the decades following World War II, rocketry, guided missiles, and space flights were rapidly developing a complex history and lore quite different from that of aviation. Accordingly, in 1965, the Museum established a Department of Astronautics parallel with a Department of Aeronautics.
At that time, artifacts in categories of rocket propulsion, guided missiles, and space-flight programs were placed under curatorial control of the Astronautics Department. In 1967 the Smithsonian Institution and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration signed an agreement which provided for transfer of title to and custody of significant space artifacts by the Museum after their technical need had passed. Through provisions of this instrument the preservation and exhibit of this country’s most important spacecraft, rocket engines, launch vehicles, and missiles has been assured for posterity.
The book covers:
- Firsts, including the Apollo 11 Command Module.
- Lunar vehicles.
- Apollo missions and moon rocks.
The descriptions for each rocket, missile, or spacecraft are short and the book is loaded with both illustrations and black-and-white and color photos.
Obviously, since this book was published in 1976 many articles have been added to the collection. You can browse the current collection via the link below.
Great easy and interesting summer read to spark an interest — and free!
Rockets, Missiles, and Spacecraft of the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution by George Kennedy
Updated 1983 version available to borrow at Internet Archive.