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Leaving Orbit : Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight
by Margaret Lazarus Dean


Overview -

Winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, a breathtaking elegy to the waning days of human spaceflight as we have known it

In the 1960s, humans took their first steps away from Earth, and for a time our possibilities in space seemed endless.  Read more...


 
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More About Leaving Orbit by Margaret Lazarus Dean
 
 
 
Overview

Winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, a breathtaking elegy to the waning days of human spaceflight as we have known it

In the 1960s, humans took their first steps away from Earth, and for a time our possibilities in space seemed endless. But in a time of austerity and in the wake of high-profile disasters like Challenger, that dream has ended. In early 2011, Margaret Lazarus Dean traveled to Cape Canaveral for NASA's last three space shuttle launches in order to bear witness to the end of an era. With Dean as our guide to Florida's Space Coast and to the history of NASA, Leaving Orbit takes the measure of what American spaceflight has achieved while reckoning with its earlier witnesses, such as Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe, and Oriana Fallaci. Along the way, Dean meets NASA workers, astronauts, and space fans, gathering possible answers to the question: What does it mean that a spacefaring nation won't be going to space anymore?


 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781555977092
  • ISBN-10: 155597709X
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press
  • Publish Date: May 2015
  • Page Count: 240


Related Categories

Books > Technology > Aeronautics & Astronautics
Books > History > Americas (North Central South West Indies)
Books > History > Military - Aviation

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2015-03-23
  • Reviewer: Staff

Dean (The Time It Takes to Fall), an associate professor of English at the University of Tennessee, asks, “What does it mean that we have been going to space for 50 years and have decided to stop?” That question haunts her thoughtful and provocative book, a history and elegy not just for the U.S. space program, but also for the optimism and sense of wonder it inspired in a nation. The Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957 heralded a realization that space exploration was more than science fiction, leading to the creation of NASA and the start of the “space race.” Dean takes readers through NASA’s “heroic era” to the “shuttle era,” as the military crewcuts and larger-than-life personalities of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs gave way to astronauts who “took the time to enjoy it.” She weaves her mesmerizing history around her trips to see the last three shuttle launches, meeting such characters as the folks who travel to watch every launch; astronaut emeritus Buzz Aldrin; and Omar Izquierdo, Kennedy Space Center’s “orbiter integrity clerk,” whose job title barely covers his role as “lay historian” and “ambassador” for American space flight. Dean deftly captures the thrill and discovery of American space exploration, as well as the disappointment and outrage she believes everyone should feel at its ending. (May)

 
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