University of Nebraska Press

Outward Odyssey: A People's History of Spaceflight Series

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

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Outward Odyssey: A People's History of Spaceflight Series

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Homesteading Space

The Skylab Story

David Hitt

As the United States and the Soviet Union went from exploring space to living in it, a space station was conceived as the logical successor to the Apollo moon program. But between conception and execution there was the vastness of space itself, to say nothing of monumental technological challenges. Homesteading Space, by two of Skylab’s own astronauts and a NASA journalist, tells the dramatic story of America’s first space station from beginning to fiery end.
 
Homesteading Space is much more than a story of technological and scientific success; it is also an absorbing, sometimes humorous, often inspiring account of the determined, hardworking individuals who shepherded the program through a near-disastrous launch, a heroic rescue, and an exhausting study of Comet Kohoutek, as well as the lab's ultimate descent into the Indian Ocean. Featuring the unpublished in-flight diary of astronaut Alan Bean, the book is replete with the personal recollections and experiences of the Skylab crew and those who worked with them in training, during the mission, and in bringing them safely home.

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In the Shadow of the Moon

A Challenging Journey to Tranquility, 1965-1969

Francis French

In the Shadow of the Moon tells the story of the most exciting and challenging years in spaceflight, with two superpowers engaged in a titanic struggle to land one of their own people on the moon. While describing awe-inspiring technical achievements, the authors go beyond the missions and the competition of the space race to focus on the people who made it all possible. Their book explores the inspirations, ambitions, personalities, and experiences of the select few whose driving ambition was to fly to the moon.

Drawing on interviews with astronauts, cosmonauts, their families, technicians, and scientists, as well as rarely seen Soviet and American government documents, the authors craft a remarkable story of the golden age of spaceflight as both an intimate human experience and a rollicking global adventure. From the Gemini flights to the Soyuz space program to the earliest Apollo missions, including the legendary first moon landing, their book draws a richly detailed picture of the space race as an endeavor equally endowed with personal meaning and political significance.

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Into That Silent Sea

Trailblazers of the Space Era, 1961-1965

Francis French

It was a time of bold new technology, historic moments, and international jousting on the final frontier. But it was also a time of human drama, of moments less public but no less dramatic in the lives of those who made the golden age of space flight happen. These are the moments and the lives that Into That Silent Sea captures, a book that tells the intimate stories of the men and women, American and Russian, who made the space race their own and gave the era its compelling character.
 
These pages chronicle a varied and riveting cavalcade of human stories, including a look at Yuri Gagarin’s harrowing childhood in war-ravaged Russia and Alan Shepard’s firm purchase on the American dream. It also examines the controversial career of cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, and the remarkable struggle and ultimate disappointment of her American counterparts. It tries to uncover the truth behind the allegations that shadowed Gus Grissom and Scott Carpenter and then allows the reader to share the heart-stopping suspense of Alexei Leonov’s near-fatal first space walk. Through dozens of interviews and access to Russian and American official documents and family records, the authors bring to life the experiences that shaped the lives of the first astronauts and cosmonauts and forever changed their world and ours.
 

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To a Distant Day

The Rocket Pioneers

Chris Gainor

Although the dream of flying is as old as the human imagination, the notion of actually rocketing into space may have originated with Chinese experiments with gunpowder in the Middle Ages. Rockets as weapons and entertainment, whether sprung from science fiction or arising out of practical necessity, are within the compass of this engaging history of how human beings actually gained the ability to catapult themselves into space.
 
Chris Gainor's irresistible narrative introduces us to pioneers such as Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Robert Goddard, and Hermann Oberth, who pointed the way to the cosmos and created the earliest wave of international enthusiasm for space exploration. It shows us German engineer Wernher von Braun creating the V-2, the first large rocket, which opened the door to space but failed utterly as the “wonder weapon” it was meant to be. From there Gainor follows the space race to the Soviet Union and the United States and gives us a close look at the competitive hysteria that led to Sputnik, satellites, space probes, and—finally—human flight into space in 1961. As much a story of cultural ambition and personal destiny as of scientific progress and technological history, To a Distant Day offers a complete and thoroughly compelling account of humanity’s determined efforts—sometimes poignant, sometimes amazing, sometimes mad—to leave the earth behind.

 

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