This is the sort of engineering porn that’s probably too hard core for a lot of people. For me, it still manages to miss an essential element. I’m not talking about character development or dramatic tension as reading the back cover is enough to ensure anyone that neither of those will be present. No, I’m talking about something way more important.
The only weld mentioned in the entire book is a faulty one on a rocket booster manufactured on Earth that is discovered before it’s installed. Seriously, there are passages devoted to rocket trajectories, radiant heat transfer, the necessity of developing smaller computers, and a risk assessment of genetic mutation from cosmic rays to name a few, but no discussion of welding. The final assembly of the fleet of ships takes place in orbit without mentioning a single welder. During the long journey to Mars, there are inspections of fuel tank skins, plumbing, and myriad electronic and mechanical components, but not a single weld is examined and the process is never referenced as part of any repair operation described.
I’m not asking for the same level of detail used to describe various fuels or anything, but there are a ton of places where a welding discussion obviously fits and it’s just not there. I’m pretty sure this oversight is what kept this book from being published back in the 50’s.