An Apollo and Space Shuttle diary
“History well remembers the excitement of what was happening ‘up there’ during the spaceflight golden years of the Apollo moon landing and the early Space Shuttle program. In a lively, rollicking, and intimately personal memoir, Jack Clemons pulls back the curtain on what was happening ‘down here,’ with an insider’s look at what it took to bring the astronauts safely home.”—David Hitt, coauthor of Bold They Rise: The Space Shuttle Early Years, 1972–1986
“A fascinating read. Part memoir, part behind-the-scenes history, Clemons’ perspective on the development of the U.S. space program is one which has always deserved far more attention than it has traditionally received.”—W. D. Kay, author of Defining NASA: The Historical Debate over the Agency’s Mission
“The incredible story of the small team that gave astronauts something to fly. A wonderfully revealing and entertaining page-turner.”—Mike Mullane, retired Space Shuttle astronaut and author of Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut
“Tells how a nation starting essentially from scratch accomplished the ‘impossible’ feat of landing a man on the moon in less than a decade.”—John Aaron, former flight controller and project manager, Apollo and Space Shuttle programs
In this one-of-a-kind memoir, Jack Clemons—a former lead engineer in support of NASA—takes readers behind the scenes and into the inner workings of the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs during their most exciting years. Discover the people, the events, and the risks involved in one of the most important parts of space missions: bringing the astronauts back home to Earth.
Clemons joined Project Apollo in 1968, a young engineer inspired by science fiction and electrified by John F. Kennedy’s challenge to the nation to put a man on the moon. He describes his experiences supporting the NASA engineering team at what is now the Johnson Space Center in Houston, where he played a pivotal role in designing the reentry and landing procedures for Apollo astronauts. He went on to work on Skylab and the Space Shuttle program, eventually assuming leadership for the entire integrated software system on board the Space Shuttle.
Through personal stories, Clemons introduces readers to many of the unsung heroes of the Apollo and Space Shuttle missions—the people who worked side-by-side with NASA engineers supporting reentry and landing for each Apollo mission, and the software team who fashioned the computer programs that accompanied the crews on the Space Shuttle. Clemons worked closely with astronauts who relied on him and his fellow engineers for directions to their destination, guidance on how to get there, control of their fate during their journeys, and a safe return. He reveals problems, challenges, and near-disasters previously unknown to the public and offers candid opinions on the failures that led to the loss of 14 astronauts in the Challenger and Columbia tragedies.
Highlighting the staggering responsibility and the incredible technological challenges that Clemons and his colleagues took on in the race to reach the moon and explore the mysteries of space, this book is a fascinating insider’s view of some of the greatest adventures of the twentieth century.
Jack Clemons was a lead engineer supporting NASA’s Apollo program and senior engineering software manager on the Space Shuttle program. He was part of the mission control backroom team that supported the NASA flight controllers on both the return of the Apollo 11 crew from the first Moon landing and the rescue of the Apollo 13 crew. A former senior vice president of engineering for Lockheed Martin, he is a writer, consultant, and speaker about NASA’s space programs.
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