Cover image for The chronological encyclopedia of discoveries in space
The chronological encyclopedia of discoveries in space
Zimmerman, Robert, 1953-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Phoeniz, AZ : Oryx Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xix, 410 pages : illustrations ; 29 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QB500.262 .Z56 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

On Order



Since the historic launch of Sputnik by the Soviet Union in 1957, the world has been enthralled first by the race to the Moon and later by the exploration of space. Lost in the international competition, however, are the hundreds of other missions (commercial, military, and scientific explorations) that have taken place over the past four decades. This encyclopedia gives readers--for the first time--a complete picture of every space mission of every country that has taken place from Sputnik through 1999. In addition to providing a chronology of launches worldwide (over 1,000 in all), this encyclopedia includes hard-to-find information on the scientific objectives and results of these missions.

Author Notes

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN is a science writer and the author of an acclaimed history of the 1960s space race, Genesis: The Story of Apollo 8. His essays on astronomy, space exploration, and science history are published regularly in such publications as The Sciences, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Astronomy, Intervention & Technology, Sky & Telescope, and Stardate.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Zimmerman, an essayist and historian of space, has created an essential reference tool for "space junkies" and the libraries that serve them. The purpose is to provide information on the goals and outcomes of every one of humankind's space exploration endeavors since Sputnik. Not only is the book useful for quick fact checks but it invites readers to stay awhile. There are entries for every space mission that has been undertaken by every country on Earth--not just manned missions but the launches of probes, communications and navigation satellites, and commercial ventures as well. If humans launched it into space, you can read about it here. Entries are arranged chronologically, beginning with Sputnik in 1957 and ending with the December 21, 1999, launch of the commercial communications satellite Galaxy 11. Each entry, ranging from a few paragraphs to a page in length, contains information on crew members, purposes of the mission, research done on the mission, and significant discoveries resulting from the research. Photographs and other images related to specific missions illustrate the work. Cross-references allow the reader to find more information on related satellites or missions. One of the strengths of the encyclopedia is its indexing. In addition to a high-quality, cross-referenced general index, appendixes list entries by nation, by name of satellite or mission, and by research purpose (such as biological research and manned missions). This variety of access points allows quick discovery of answers to the space exploration^-related questions encountered at the reference desk, both serious and lighthearted. What was the name of the first dog in space? Are Timothy Leary's remains really floating around in space? Which space missions yielded evidence relating to the global warming issue? (Answers: Laika. Yes, aboard the commercial capsule Celestis I. Among others, the ERS 2 satellite launched in 1995.) A glossary and bibliography complete the work. The Chronological Encyclopedia is the product of painstaking research and clearly conveys a sense of how far humans have progressed in their knowledge of space. It is appropriate for high-school age and older students and will prove to be a very useful reference tool for all public, school, and academic libraries as well as special libraries with a science and technology focus.

Choice Review

Beginning with Sputnik (1957) and continuing through December 1999, this source allows readers to look up missions alphabetically, by subject, or by countries, following the basic chronological listing. Entries group some launches and satellites rather than giving each a separate entry. For each of 1,000 entries, the book gives in matter-of-fact style highlights, details as to purpose, and the failures and tragedies that accompany space exploration. Some recent NASA fiascoes are included, notably those involving the Mars Climate Orbiter, which was destroyed as the result of metric conversion errors, and the Mars Polar Lander, which crashed into the planet when its engines shut down ten seconds prior to landing. The work is comprehensive in scope and "describes the goals--as well as the information gained--from every mission into space from every nation." Dates in the running heads help in using the book, and a glossary, bibliography, photos, diagrams, and index enhance its usefulness. An excellent source, worthwhile for all libraries. L. Windsor; Ohio University

Table of Contents

Introduction: Before 1957
The Chronological Encyclopedia of Discoveries in Space 1957-59 1960-69 1970-79 1980-89 1990-99
Appendix 1 Satellites and Missions Listed Alphabetically
Appendix 2 Satellites and Missions Listed by Subject
Appendix 3 Satellites and Missions Listed by Nation or Group of Nations