Astronaut

For readers of The Astronaut Wives Club, The Mercury 13 reveals the little-known true story of the remarkable women who trained for NASA space flight.

In 1961, just as NASA launched its first man into space, a group of women underwent secret testing in the hopes of becoming America’s first female astronauts. They passed the same battery of tests at the legendary Lovelace Foundation as did the Mercury 7 astronauts, but they were summarily dismissed by the boys’ club at NASA and on Capitol Hill. The USSR sent its first woman into space in 1963; the United States did not follow suit for another twenty years.

For the first time, Martha Ackmann tells the story of the dramatic events surrounding these thirteen remarkable women, all crackerjack pilots and patriots who sometimes sacrificed jobs and marriages for a chance to participate in America’s space race against the Soviet Union. In addition to talking extensively to these women, Ackmann interviewed Chuck Yeager, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, and others at NASA and in the White House with firsthand knowledge of the program, and includes here never-before-seen photographs of the Mercury 13 passing their Lovelace tests.

Despite the crushing disappointment of watching their dreams being derailed, the Mercury 13 went on to extraordinary achievement in their lives: Jerrie Cobb, who began flying when she was so small she had to sit on pillows to see out of the cockpit, dedicated her life to flying solo missions to the Amazon rain forest; Wally Funk, who talked her way into the Lovelace trials, went on to become one of the first female FAA investigators; Janey Hart, mother of eight and, at age forty, the oldest astronaut candidate, had the political savvy to steer the women through congressional hearings and later helped found the National Organization for Women.

A provocative tribute to these extraordinary women, The Mercury 13 is an unforgettable story of determination, resilience, and inextinguishable hope.
Forty years ago, Buzz Aldrin became the second human, minutes after Neil Armstrong, to set foot on a celestial body other than the Earth. The event remains one of mankind’s greatest achievements and was witnessed by the largest worldwide television audience in history. In the years since, millions more have had their Earth-centric perspective unalterably changed by the iconic photograph of Aldrin standing on the surface of the moon, the blackness of space behind him and his fellow explorer and the Eagle reflected in his visor. Describing the alien world he was walking upon, he uttered the words “magnificent desolation.” And as the astronauts later sat in the Eagle, waiting to begin their journey back home, knowing that they were doomed unless every system and part on board worked flawlessly, it was Aldrin who responded to Mission Control’s clearance to take off with the quip, “Roger. Understand. We’re number one on the runway.”

The flight of Apollo 11 made Aldrin one of the most famous persons on our planet, yet few people know the rest of this true American hero’s story. In Magnificent Desolation, Aldrin not only gives us a harrowing first-person account of the lunar landing that came within seconds of failure and the ultimate insider’s view of life as one of the superstars of America’s space program, he also opens up with remarkable candor about his more personal trials–and eventual triumphs–back on Earth. From the glory of being part of the mission that fulfilled President Kennedy’s challenge to reach the moon before the decade was out, Aldrin returned home to an Air Force career stripped of purpose or direction, other than as a public relations tool that NASA put to relentless use in a seemingly nonstop world tour. The twin demons of depression and alcoholism emerged–the first of which Aldrin confronted early and publicly, and the second of which he met with denial until it nearly killed him. He burned through two marriages, his Air Force career came to an inglorious end, and he found himself selling cars for a living when he wasn’t drunkenly wrecking them. Redemption came when he finally embraced sobriety, gained the love of a woman, Lois, who would become the great joy of his life, and dedicated himself to being a tireless advocate for the future of space exploration–not only as a scientific endeavor but also as a thriving commercial enterprise.

These days Buzz Aldrin is enjoying life with an enthusiasm that reminds us how far it is possible for a person to travel, literally and figuratively. As an adventure story, a searing memoir of self-destruction and self-renewal, and as a visionary rallying cry to once again set our course for Mars and beyond, Magnificent Desolation is the thoroughly human story of a genuine hero.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The riveting inside story of three heroic astronauts who took on the challenge of mankind’s historic first mission to the Moon, from the bestselling author of Shadow Divers.

“Robert Kurson tells the tale of Apollo 8 with novelistic detail and immediacy.”—Andy Weir, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Martian and Artemis


By August 1968, the American space program was in danger of failing in its two most important objectives: to land a man on the Moon by President Kennedy’s end-of-decade deadline, and to triumph over the Soviets in space. With its back against the wall, NASA made an almost unimaginable leap: It would scrap its usual methodical approach and risk everything on a sudden launch, sending the first men in history to the Moon—in just four months. And it would all happen at Christmas.

In a year of historic violence and discord—the Tet Offensive, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy, the riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago—the Apollo 8 mission would be the boldest, riskiest test of America’s greatness under pressure. In this gripping insider account, Robert Kurson puts the focus on the three astronauts and their families: the commander, Frank Borman, a conflicted man on his final mission; idealistic Jim Lovell, who’d dreamed since boyhood of riding a rocket to the Moon; and Bill Anders, a young nuclear engineer and hotshot fighter pilot making his first space flight.

Drawn from hundreds of hours of one-on-one interviews with the astronauts, their loved ones, NASA personnel, and myriad experts, and filled with vivid and unforgettable detail, Rocket Men is the definitive account of one of America’s finest hours. In this real-life thriller, Kurson reveals the epic dangers involved, and the singular bravery it took, for mankind to leave Earth for the first time—and arrive at a new world.

Rocket Men is a riveting introduction to the [Apollo 8] flight. . . . Kurson details the mission in crisp, suspenseful scenes. . . . [A] gripping book.”—The New York Times Book Review
Much has been written about Neil Armstrong, America's modern hero and history's most famous space traveler. Yet shy of fame and never one to steal the spotlight Armstrong was always reluctant to discuss his personal side of events. Here for the first time is the definitive story of Neil's life of flight he shared for five decades with a trusted friend – Jay Barbree.

Working from 50 years of conversations he had with Neil, from notes, interviews, NASA spaceflight transcripts, and remembrances of those Armstrong trusted, Barbree writes about Neil's three passions – flight, family, and friends. This is the inside story of Neil Armstrong from the time he flew combat missions in the Korean War and then flew a rocket plane called the X-15 to the edge of space, to when he saved his Gemini 8 by flying the first emergency return from Earth orbit and then flew Apollo-Eleven to the moon's Sea of Tranquility.

Together Neil and Jay discussed everything, from his love of flying, to the war years, and of course his time in space. The book is full of never-before-seen photos and personal details written down for the first time, including what Armstrong really felt when he took that first step on the moon, what life in NASA was like, his relationships with the other astronauts, and what he felt the future of space exploration should be.

As the only reporter to have covered all 166 American astronaut flights and moon landings Jay knows these events intimately. Neil Armstrong himself said, "Barbree is history's most experienced space journalist. He is exceptionally well qualified to recall and write the events and emotions of our time." Through his friendship with Neil and his dedicated research, Barbree brings us the most accurate account of his friend's life of flight, the book he planned for twenty years.
Marking the forty-fifth anniversary of Apollo 11’s moon landing, First Man by James Hansen offers the only authorized glimpse into the life of America’s most famous astronaut, Neil Armstrong—the man whose “one small step” changed history.

“The Eagle has landed.”

When Apollo 11 touched down on the moon’s surface in 1969, the first man on the moon became a legend. In First Man, Hansen explores the life of Neil Armstrong. Based on over fifty hours of interviews with the intensely private Armstrong, who also gave Hansen exclusive access to private documents and family sources, this “magnificent panorama of the second half of the American twentieth century” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) is an unparalleled biography of an American icon.

Upon his return to earth, Armstrong was honored and celebrated for his monumental achievement. He was also—as James R. Hansen reveals in this fascinating and important biography—misunderstood. Armstrong’s accomplishments as engineer, test pilot, and astronaut have long been a matter of record, but Hansen’s unprecedented access to private documents and unpublished sources and his interviews with more than 125 subjects (including more than fifty hours with Armstrong himself) yield this first in-depth analysis of an elusive American celebrity still renowned the world over.

In a riveting narrative filled with revelations, Hansen vividly recreates Armstrong’s career in flying, from his seventy-eight combat missions as a naval aviator flying over North Korea to his formative transatmospheric flights in the rocket-powered X-15 to his piloting Gemini VIII to the first-ever docking in space. These milestones made it seem, as Armstrong’s mother Viola memorably put it, “as if from the very moment he was born—farther back still—that our son was somehow destined for the Apollo 11 mission.”

For a pilot who cared more about flying to the Moon than he did about walking on it, Hansen asserts, Armstrong’s storied vocation exacted a dear personal toll, paid in kind by his wife and children. For the forty-five years since the Moon landing, rumors have swirled around Armstrong concerning his dreams of space travel, his religious beliefs, and his private life.

In a penetrating exploration of American hero worship, Hansen addresses the complex legacy of the First Man, as an astronaut and as an individual. In First Man, the personal, technological, epic, and iconic blend to form the portrait of a great but reluctant hero who will forever be known as history’s most famous space traveler.
On February 1, 1978, the first group of space shuttle astronauts, twenty-nine men and six women, were introduced to the world. Among them would be history makers, including the first American woman and the first African American in space. This assembly of astronauts would carry NASA through the most tumultuous years of the space shuttle program. Four would die on Challenger.

USAF Colonel Mike Mullane was a member of this astronaut class, and Riding Rockets is his story -- told with a candor never before seen in an astronaut's memoir. Mullane strips the heroic veneer from the astronaut corps and paints them as they are -- human. His tales of arrested development among military flyboys working with feminist pioneers and post-doc scientists are sometimes bawdy, often hilarious, and always entertaining.

Mullane vividly portrays every aspect of the astronaut experience -- from telling a female technician which urine-collection condom size is a fit; to walking along a Florida beach in a last, tearful goodbye with a spouse; to a wild, intoxicating, terrifying ride into space; to hearing "Taps" played over a friend's grave. Mullane is brutally honest in his criticism of a NASA leadership whose bungling would precipitate the Challenger disaster.

Riding Rockets is a story of life in all its fateful uncertainty, of the impact of a family tragedy on a nine-year-old boy, of the revelatory effect of a machine called Sputnik, and of the life-steering powers of lust, love, and marriage. It is a story of the human experience that will resonate long after the call of "Wheel stop."
The names of the seven Mercury astronauts were announced in April 1959 amid a flurry of publicity and patriotism. This work provides biographical details of all thirty-two finalists for the seven coveted places as America's pioneering astronauts. All of the candidates were among the nation's elite pilots involved in testing new supersonic aircraft capabilities. Most had served as wartime fighter and bomber pilots; some were test pilots on top secret and sophisticated aviation projects, while others were fleet admirals, prisoners of war, and proposed pilots for spaceflight programs such as the Dyna-Soar (X-20). The names of all 32 finalists have been kept secret until very recently. "Selecting the Mercury Seven" also relates the history and difficulties behind the initial choice of candidates. The lives, motivations, military careers, and achievements of the unsuccessful twenty-five finalists are explored first in fully authorized biographies. Test pilots for the U.S. Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, each man has a fascinating and very different story to tell. All thirty-two men had to endure meticulous, demeaning, and brutal week-long medical examinations at the Lovelace Clinic in New Mexico. This was followed by another torturous week at the Wright Aeromedical Laboratory in Ohio, where they were subjected to extreme fitness and physiological testing, the sole purpose of which was to sort out the Supermen from the near-supermen. The final part of the book examines the accomplishments and spaceflights of the seven successful candidates, bringing their amazing stories right up to date.
From the age of ten, looking up at the stars, Jerry Ross knew that he wanted to journey into space. This autobiography tells the story of how he came not only to achieve that goal, but to become the most-launched astronaut in history, as well as a NASA veteran whose career spanned the entire U.S. Space Shuttle program. From his childhood in rural Indiana, through education at Purdue University, and a career in the U.S. Air Force, Ross charted a path to NASA after overcoming many setbacks, from failing to qualify for Air Force pilot training because of "bad" eyesight, to an initial failure to be selected into the astronaut program. The majority of the book is an insider's account of the U.S. Space Shuttle program, including the unforgettable experience of launch, the delights of weightless living, and the challenges of constructing the International Space Station. Ross is a uniquely qualified narrator. During seven spaceflights, he spent 1,393 hours in space, including 58 hours and 18 minutes on nine space walks. Life on the ground is also described, including the devastating experiences of the Challenger and Columbia disasters. For readers who have followed the space program from Mercury through the International Space Station and wonder what comes next, this book provides fascination; for young people interested in space exploration and reaching for their dreams, whatever they might be, this book provides inspiration. Full of stories of spaceflight that few humans have ever experienced, told with humor and honesty, Spacewalker presents a unique perspective on the hard work, determination, and faith necessary to travel beyond this world.

Key Points: -An insider's account of the U.S. Space Shuttle program, from before its first launch through the final landing, and the building of the International Space Station. -A firsthand account of life in space from the first human to fly seven missions. -An inspirational story of a personal journey from rural Indiana to outer space, powered by a deep Christian faith.

Astronauts, cosmonauts, and a very limited number of people have experienced eating space food due to the unique processing and packaging required for space travel. This book allows anyone with a normal kitchen to prepare space food. Since some of the processing such as freeze dehydration, and packaging cannot be accomplished in the normal kitchen, many of the recipes will not produce the food that would be launched in space, but will prepare food similar to what the astronauts would eat after they had added the water to the food in space. Many of the space foods are prepared to the point of ready to eat, and then frozen and freeze dried. Food preparation in this book stops at the point of ready to eat before the freezing and dehydrating takes place.

Recipes in this book are extracted from the NASA food specifications and modified for preparation in a normal kitchen.

In addition, astronaut home favorite recipes and NASA quarantine food recipes are included. NASA developed an extensive frozen food system for the International Space Station Habitation Module. The Habitation Module was cut from the budget, so these foods were not used, but some of the favorite recipes are in this book. NASA also developed a complete food system for planetary missions based on crops that could be grown in space. Some of these vegetarian recipes are also included in the book. Each recipe has the source identified such as Shuttle, International Space Station, astronaut favorite etc.

The book will contain the following chapters: Introduction, Appetizers, Beverages, Bread and Tortillas, Cookies, Sandwiches, Desserts, Main Dishes, Soups and Salads, Vegetables, and Future Space Foods.

Interesting tidbits of space food history will be spread throughout the book. Examples like; did NASA invent Tang?, who was the first person to eat in space?, the Gemini sandwich fiasco, why there is no alcohol in U.S. space food systems, astronauts favorite food, etc.

This book will be of interest to anyone wanting to taste and serve space food, chefs for special meals, teachers for use in the classroom, and anyone with a general interest in food and space.

From one of the most admired and beloved couples in recent American history, an extraordinarily moving story of public service, risk-taking, romance—and the journey toward recovery. This book delivers hope and redemption in the face of the tragic shooting, and introduces two unforgettable heroes.

AS INDIVIDUALS, CONGRESSWOMAN GABRIELLE GIFFORDS and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, showed Americans how optimism, an adventurous spirit, and a call to service can help change the world. As a couple, they became a national example of the healing power to be found in deeply shared love and courage. Their arrival in the world spotlight came under the worst of circumstances. On January 8, 2011, while meeting with her constituents in Tucson, Arizona, Gabby was the victim of an assassination attempt that left six people dead and thirteen wounded. Gabby was shot in the head; doctors called her survival “miraculous.”

As the nation grieved and sought to understand the attack, Gabby remained in private, focused on her against-all-odds recovery. Mark spent every possible moment by her side, as he also prepared for his final mission as commander of space shuttle Endeavour.

Now, as Gabby’s health continues to improve, the couple is sharing their remarkable untold story. Intimate, inspiring, and unforgettably moving, Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope provides an unflinching look at the overwhelming challenges of brain injury, the painstaking process of learning to communicate again, and the responsibilities that fall to a loving spouse who wants the best possible treatment for his wife. Told in Mark’s voice and from Gabby’s heart, the book also chronicles the lives that brought these two extraordinary people together—their humor, their ambitions, their sense of duty, their long-distance marriage, and their desire for family.

Gabby and Mark made a pledge to tell their account as honestly as possible, and they have done so in riveting detail. Both Gabby and Mark have lived large public lives, but this book takes readers behind many closed doors—from the flight deck of the space shuttle to the cloakrooms of Congress to the hospital wards where Gabby struggled to reclaim herself with the help of formidable medical teams and devoted family and friends.

Questions are answered with unvarnished candor. How do Gabby and Mark feel about the angry political discourse that was swirling in America at the time of the shooting, and that remains prevalent today? How do they see government living up to the highest possible ideals? And how do they understand and mourn the loss of the people who did not survive that day? Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope is a reminder of the power of true grit, the patience needed to overcome unimaginable obstacles, and the transcendence of love. In the story of Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly, we all can see the best in ourselves. As Mark and Gabby’s friends have said: “The two of them are America as we dream it can be.”
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