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Orbit of Discovery

The All-Ohio Space Shuttle Mission

by Don Thomas

Publication Year: 2013

The desire to beat gravity is a Buckeye tradition. After all, Orville and Wilbur Wright were Dayton, Ohio, boys who went to Kitty Hawk in 1903 to get things off the ground. When space became the next frontier, John Glenn, who was born in Cambridge, Ohio, on July 18, 1921, became the first American to orbit the earth in his Friendship 7 spacecraft. A Wapakoneta, Ohio, resident, Neil Armstrong, born in 1930, followed in the footsteps of Glenn by being the first human to step onto the moon’s surface during the summer of 1969. Don Thomas, a Cleveland native, saw other Ohioans in space and set his sights on becoming an astronaut. After years of hard work and dedication, he became part of the 1995 All-Ohio space shuttle Discovery mission. Orbit of Discovery provides a first-hand account of this mission. Written by Thomas with the assistance of journalist, Mike Bartell, the book is a lively and entertaining must read for individuals who want to experience a ride into space. Orbit of Discovery is augmented with a foreword by astronaut and Senator John Glenn and an introduction by Senator George Voinovich.

Published by: The University of Akron Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

Ohio has always had a long and rich aeronautics tradition since the Wright Brothers first accomplished powered flight in 1903. From the great National Air Races that took place in Cleveland in the 1930s and 1940s, to the establishment of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the NACA Lewis Research Center, and the many universities and colleges across the state, Ohio...


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pp. xiii-xvi

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pp. 1-6

On July 13, 1995, space shuttle Discovery and her crew of five astronauts launched from Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was Discovery’s twenty-first trip to space. The main objective for this mission was the delivery of a huge communications satellite known as the Tracking and Data...

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Chapter One: Discovery Attacked!

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pp. 7-41

The already grueling pace began to quicken even more. In just hours, the five-member STS-70 crew would be entering quarantine. In a few days, we’d be heading to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. And in little over a week—on June 8, 1995, if all went as planned—we’d be floating in the weightlessness of space...

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Chapter Two: In the Footsteps of Glenn and Armstrong

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pp. 42-91

The trip to the Kennedy Space Center began much earlier than the woodpecker-interrupted, quarantine-challenged, weather-marred flight from Houston. That I wanted to be an astronaut wasn’t too unusual for boys growing up in the early 1960s. There were many kids in my class who professed to having...

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Chapter Three: The All-Ohio Shuttle Crew

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pp. 92-140

It started off as just another day. Exactly one month earlier—July 23, 1994—my STS-65 crew mates and I landed at the Kennedy Space Center aboard Columbia after our International Microgravity Laboratory mission that set a shuttle program flight duration record—14 days, 17 hours, and 55 minutes. Now we were in the middle of our postflight debriefings, which included visits to other...

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Chapter Four: Discovery to Orbit

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pp. 141-175

Launch Day for the STS-70 crew dawned, well, dark. That’s because our scheduled wake-up time—driven by our launch time of 9:41 a.m.—was at 4:46 a.m. I set my alarm for a few minutes earlier than that and already was up when they knocked on my bedroom door to make sure I didn’t oversleep—like that was even a possibility...

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Chapter Five: Open Season on Woodpeckers

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pp. 176-205

Rob Kelso, our lead flight director, declared the STS-70 mission a woodpecker humor-free zone—at least until TDRS was deployed. He told everyone to hold off on the woodpecker jokes, and rightly so because he wanted all of us focused on the primary and most critical aspect of the mission. But once the satellite floated from the shuttle’s payload bay and was placed successfully in its own orbit, things got much more laid-back, not only aboard Discovery but also in Mission Control...

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Chapter Six: Scientific Discovery

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pp. 206-226

We were scheduled to sleep until 2:12 a.m. CDT on Flight Day 3, but I woke up early because I was a bit cold. Everyone else was still asleep, so I really couldn’t do much but listen to music, read, or write down a few thoughts. I decided to make another entry in my journal: ...

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Chapter Seven: Columbus was Right

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pp. 227-245

Since my first flight when I was fourteen years old, I have always enjoyed looking out the window of an airplane and watching the scenery go by. Passing over cities, farmland, mountains, lakes, and rivers, I loved the perspective of looking down below. Whether flying in a small plane at five thousand feet or in one of...

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Chapter Eight: Close Encounter with Space Junk

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pp. 246-261

We continued our sleep-shifting, which moved our official wake-up time for Flight Day 6 to 11:12 p.m. CDT Monday. I woke up early once again and floated in my sleeping bag in the airlock while I jotted down a few thoughts: ...

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Chapter Nine: Fireball to Earth

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pp. 262-305

Landing Day wake-up time was 10:42 p.m. CDT Thursday, July 20, and everyone was excited that morning. There was a sense of great anticipation. Everything was looking good for us. Even my horoscope was optimistic: “The time, energy, or money you have invested in a special venture pays off today” (Jillson 1995). We all felt great about the mission and looked forward to getting back home and seeing our families. No tears were shed because it was our last day in space. We couldn’t wait to get back on Earth...

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Chapter Ten: Hail, Hail,Rock ‘n’ Roll

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pp. 306-326

After a good night’s sleep, I woke up about 6:00 a.m. Sunday and got out of bed a half-hour later. My calves were sore and my legs felt tired and a little weak like I had been hiking in the mountains for ten hours the day before. But overall, I felt pretty good. After a few wobbly steps, I got my legs working properly and went downstairs and had a few minutes to myself...

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Chapter Eleven: Onward and Upward

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pp. 327-347

Astronauts assigned to shuttle missions were molded into close-knit teams, performed the missions for which they were trained, and once the flights were over, returned to the pool of their colleagues to wait their turn for assignment to another mission. New crews were formed, new close-knit teams were developed, new missions were flown, and what seemed like an endless cycle continued. That was the normal progression until the end of the shuttle program in 2011...

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Chapter Twelve: Those Clang Jangin’ Woodpeckers

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pp. 348-356

NASA’s space shuttle program, which began April 12, 1981, and ended July 21, 2011, will be remembered both for its great triumphs and even greater tragedies. The loss of seven astronauts aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1986 and the loss of seven more aboard Columbia seventeen years later will forever be etched in the annals of spaceflight...

Appendix: The Twenty-Six Ohio Astronauts

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pp. 357-396


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pp. 397-408

E-ISBN-13: 9781937378776
E-ISBN-10: 1937378772
Print-ISBN-13: 9781937378721
Print-ISBN-10: 1937378721

Page Count: 456
Publication Year: 2013

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Discovery (Spacecraft).
  • Space flights.
  • Thomas, Don, 1955- -- Travel.
  • Outer space -- Exploration -- United States.
  • Astronauts -- Ohio.
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