© 2014

To Orbit and Back Again

How the Space Shuttle Flew in Space


Part of the Springer Praxis Books book series (PRAXIS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxii
  2. Davide Sivolella
    Pages 81-124
  3. Davide Sivolella
    Pages 125-156
  4. Davide Sivolella
    Pages 157-178
  5. Davide Sivolella
    Pages 291-298
  6. Davide Sivolella
    Pages 299-338
  7. Davide Sivolella
    Pages 339-388
  8. Davide Sivolella
    Pages 389-446
  9. Davide Sivolella
    Pages 447-494
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 495-503

About this book


The question may be simple, but the answer is not as easy to give. This book describes the structures and systems used each time the Shuttle was launched, and then follows an imaginary mission, explaining how those structures and systems were used in orbital operations and the return to Earth. Details of how anomalous events were dealt with on individual missions are also provided, as are the recollections of those who built and flew the Shuttle.

Highly illustrated with many diagrams, photographs and technical drawings, To Orbit and Back Again

• focuses on the engineering aspects of the Shuttle

• describes the systems and subsystems in clear, non-technical terms

• brings to the fore the design work behind the Space Shuttle and the mission itself.




Aerodynamic command surfaces Challenger explosion How Space Shuttles fly Main propulsion system Rocket booster technology Shuttle engineering Shuttle orbital flight Space Shuttle program Space shuttle structure Space shuttle systems Space transportation system

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Aerospace Engineer, Thomson AirwaysLondon Luton AirportLondonUnited Kingdom

About the authors

Davide Sivolella was born in Pinerolo, Italy, in 1981. As a child, he developed a fascination with all kinds of flying machines, especially those which travel above the atmosphere. This passion for astronautics led to bacheklor's and master's degrees in Aerospace Engineering from the Polytechnic of Turin (Italy). He then worked as a specialist in aircraft structural repairs odf civil airliners in the United Kingsom. He thinks of aircraft as spacecraft that fly low and slow. To Orbit and Back Again: How the Space Shuttle Flew in Space is his first book, born from a life-long passion for the Space Shuttle program. Apart from his fondness for human space exploration, and writing about it, he also enjoys cooking, traveling, and landscape photography. He currently lives in England near London with his Spanish wife Monica.

Bibliographic information

Industry Sectors
Energy, Utilities & Environment
Oil, Gas & Geosciences


From the reviews:

“This book focuses on the space shuttle and its technology, including the shuttle’s design, engineering, integration, and operations. … This comprehensive volume provides a good overview of the accomplishments of the engineers who designed the shuttle and its operational protocols. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers interested in space science and technology.” (A. M. Strauss, Choice, Vol. 51 (7), March, 2014)

“Davide Sivolella’s book To Orbit and Back Again … becomes apparent just how complex the shuttle was, and how remarkable it was that it flew as successfully as it did for three decades. … There is, as promised, considerable technical information about the shuttle’s systems, far more than the general reader might expect, or want. … someone seeking to go beyond the basics of the engineering of the shuttle. … this book provides a good reminder of what made those launches possible.” (Jeff Foust,, November, 2013)