Space Shuttle Stories: Firsthand Astronaut Accounts from All 135 Missions

Smithsonian. Oct. 2023. 320p. ISBN 9781588347541. $35. SCI
Veteran astronaut Jones’s (Sky Walking) latest book is exactly what the title promises: a visually stunning collection of photographs, mission statistics, and firsthand anecdotes from astronauts on board each of NASA’s 135 shuttle missions. From the trepidation and elation surrounding the first shuttle flights to the melancholy pride that covered the final flight of the space shuttle Atlantis, each mission is described with tantalizing details. The two shuttle tragedies—the loss of Challenger and its seven crew members in 1986 and the seven deaths from Columbia’s disintegration in 2003—are portrayed with solemn dignity, and the place of those vehicles and their astronauts in the history of the shuttle program is respectfully defined. The pictures that accompany each voyage’s description and crew list are terrific. They include action shots of the shuttle and group photos of the crew, wearing anything from the renowned orange space suits to Hawaiian shirts and the special logo patch designed for each mission.
VERDICT This delightful compilation of facts, figures, and photography will thrill and educate readers with an interest in the realities of American space travel.
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