Using interviews, NASA oral histories, and recently declassified material, Into the Black pieces together the dramatic untold story of the Columbia mission and the brave people who dedicated themselves to help the United States succeed in the age of space exploration. Read more...
Using interviews, NASA oral histories, and recently declassified material, Into the Black pieces together the dramatic untold story of the Columbia mission and the brave people who dedicated themselves to help the United States succeed in the age of space exploration. On April 12, 1981, NASA's Space Shuttle Columbia blasted off from Cape Canaveral. It was the most advanced, state-of-the-art flying machine ever built, challenging the minds and imagination of America's top engineers and pilots. Columbia was the world's first real spaceship: a winged rocket plane, the size of an airliner, and capable of flying to space and back before preparing to fly again.
On board were moonwalker John Young and test pilot Bob Crippen. Less than an hour after Young and Crippen's spectacular departure from the Cape, all was not well. Tiles designed to protect the ship from the blowtorch burn of re-entry were missing from the heat shield. If the damage to Columbia was too great, the astronauts wouldn't be able to return safely to earth. NASA turned to the National Reconnaissance Office, a spy agency hidden deep inside the Pentagon whose very existence was classified. To help the ship, the NRO would attempt something never done before. Success would require skill, perfect timing, and luck.
Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, Into the Black is a thrilling race against time and the incredible true story of the first space shuttle mission that celebrates our passion for spaceflight.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-05-16
- Reviewer: Staff
Aviation historian White (The Big Book of Flight) explores the history of the American space program, leading up to an in-depth recounting of the first flight of Columbia. After opening with a teaser for the shuttle flight, White plunges into the early days of NASA and American space exploration, which may surprise readers looking for the story of Columbia and its astronauts. This flurry of names, dates, anagrams, and careers handily sets the stage, but the sense of these historical figures as people is largely lost until the book focuses on its main subject. The meticulous attention to detail also hampers and interrupts the narrative flow with unnecessarily specific information. However, the account of Columbia's flight is made richer by a greater sense of the fragility and ingenuity of the shuttle and the shuttle program. White's use of records and firsthand accounts from the Columbia program makes the stakes real and immediate, even with knowledge of the outcome. Readers with extensive knowledge of military planes and an interest in the politics of the space program will appreciate White's contextualizing of Columbia's first flight; the story may be slow going for other readers, but it is worth the effort. (Apr.)