Americans in Space. (educational software) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Margaret A. Bowden, Bruce M. Bowden
If you're a manned space light enthusiast, Americans in Space is a must-have package for your multimedia PC. This comprehensive CD-ROM stylishly chronicles the U.S. manned space program from its beginnings to the present day space shuttle and the upcoming space station. Watching and listening to a riveting blend of still pictures, animation, and narration, you can either follow the progress of America's manned space projects across the historical time line or zoom directly in on a particular subject of interest.
Upon launching the software, you have three options. Beginners can consult the Pilot's Manual for usage information. Once you've been briefed on piloting the program, you can travel to Mission Control for access to over 500 photographs and over an hour of video and narration. Finally, the Express Tours selection offers overviews entitled The Race to the Moon, Turning Points, Disasters, Living in Space, and Cruising the Planet.
The Americans in Space user interface makes navigation a breeze. In both Express Tours and Mission Control, you choose options from a simulated control panel using the mouse.
There are eight selections in Mission Control: Prologue, Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz, Space Shuttle, and Space Station. If you click on Apollo-Soyuz, you're given only one selection, since the proqram had only a single mission. But if you choose Gemini, you're then able to select from any of the ten Gemini missions, as well as from a project overview. The overview summarizes the purpose and history of the selected program and can be printed for future reference. You can choose to watch a slide show or movie about the program. There are three Gemini movies: The Gemini Launch Sequence, Gemini-Agena Rendezvous Test, and Gemini Reentry and Splashdown. The high-resolution images are beautiful and finely detailed throughout the program.
When you select an individual mission, the mission patch is displayed along with descriptive text, and several options are presented which let you view mission statistics, astronaut profiles, or a slide show of the mission. All relevant facts such as mission dates are presented on the control panel.
The Express Tours selection presents narrated slideshow histories of various aspects of the space program. You can view a fullscreen slide show, but there's no provision to stop and start the show when using this option. With the simple slide show, you view smaller pictures on the control panel at your own pace, and you can blow up pictures you're particularly interested in to full-screen size.
The Americans in Space package includes versions for both MPCs and Macintoshes. With over an hour of full-motion video, more than 500 images, and narration to accompany it all, this is a fascinating multimedia presentation. We can highly recommend this wonderful space program.
(800) 245-4525 $59.95
Circle Reader Service Number 441