The Mir Space Station is a widely-recognized outer space collaboration between American and Russian space scientists. In cyberspace, the Encyclopedia Astronautica Web site has also gained recognition - including recommendation from the Encyclopedia Britannica - as a well-organized source of a vast wealth of information about American and Russian space exploration.
Encyclopedia Astronautica is authored by Mark Wade, a space hobbyist, and sponsored by Friends and Partners, one of the first Internet services developed jointly by citizens of the United States and Russia. The author has made excellent use of frames and an extensive variety of indexes to present a vast array of detailed space mission information. These include a chronology of space flight searchable by individual year and year quarter, alphabetic indexes to space programs, detailed spacecraft information, (including mission purposes), astronaut biographies (including photos and mission information), manned flights, rocket launches, stages, and engines. A fuels index presents the stage index information alphabetically within propellant type. A launch site index allows users to search by site name. One can also search spacecraft alphabetically by objective and launch vehicles by family name. Another index is a gateway to many enlargeable graphics, many in color. All indexes offer users the opportunity to search by the first letter or digit of the desired record, and at the top of every record page a standardized top menu of options for traveling the site is provided.
Visitors will also find a "What's New" section noting new or updated pages, as well as other special features. At this writing, the latter included a link to astronaut statistics, women of space, and Soviet combat spacecraft, among others. A "Top Twenty" section lists selected popular links to a variety of topics. An alphabetical listing of references by author and an acknowledgments section provide some authority information. Encyclopedia Astronautics currently boasts 5,596 articles, i.e. the individual entries located via the indexes, and also provides a main index link to longer, overview articles.
Truly encyclopedic, this is a colorful and easily-navigated site, rich with information. While some content might be useful to middle-school children, this site is really most appropriate for the more sophisticated visitor, from the high school student to the advanced researcher. Additional information about the Web site's author would be a useful addition to the FAQ section provided on the home page.
Judith A. Matthews
Michigan State University