Although the overall quality of Haynes' new releases seems to be down somewhat this year, this book really impressed me. It's certainly their most in-depth space "manual" yet, even more so than their books on the Lunar Rover and the Apollo 13 mission. Although Dr. Baker wrote extensively about the hardware and engineering of Project Mercury in his 1981 tome "The History of Manned Spaceflight," this is the most detailed book I've ever seen on the spacecraft, official NASA publications excepted.
At 204 pages, this is one of those rare Haynes books that has breathing room. The opening chapter goes into some depth about the origin of Project Mercury, and the evolution of blunt-body entry vehicles. The majority of the book is a detailed technical description of the spacecraft hardware and how it worked. Each of the major spacecraft systems receives a few pages of technical description, accompanied by excellent photographs and diagrams. Even the biomedical sensors and posigrade rockets are described in some depth. There's quite a bit of material here I've never seen before, including detailed explanations of how the horizon sensors and periscope worked, and the instrumentation systems of the unmanned capsules. Finally, there's a brief overview of each mission, which discusses the main technical issues encountered and how the spacecraft evolved during the program, descriptions of the Little Joe, Redstone, and Atlas launch vehicles, and a look at the Worldwide Tracking Network (WWTN).
The most impressive aspect of this book is the technical drawings, of which there are nearly 150. These range from exploded views and cross-sections, to "breadboard" type diagrams, system block diagrams, wiring charts, and even a few telemetry graphs. You'll find exploded views of cabin air valves, cross-sections of the spacecraft structure, cutaway views of the launch escape tower, and so on. There's even quite a few "workshop manual" type diagrams, with hand-written notes on installation procedures and how many ft-lbs of torque to use when tightening the bolts. There's also numerous diagrams depicting the competing proposals presented in 1959, and a few diagrams showing some interesting ideas put forth at the end of the program, including an orbiting observatory and a micrometeorite collection experiment.
If this book has a flaw, it's that it's not as compulsively readable as some of Haynes' other space "manuals," the recent one on the Saturn V being an obvious example. It's an engineering book written by an engineer and meant for serious space buffs only. I read it in a few days, but I imagine most folks could only handle it in small doses. But if you ARE one of those serious buffs, the kind that always wanted to know what the inside of the hatch plunger looked like, you'll probably love it.
- Hardcover: 208 pages
- Publisher: HAYNES PUBLISHING GROUP (11 June 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1785210645
- ISBN-13: 978-1785210648
- Product Dimensions: 21.9 x 1.6 x 27.6 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 898 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)