Books in the Outward Odyssey: A People’s History of Spaceflight series provide a popular history of spaceflight from the rocket scientists of the 1930s to today, focusing on the lives of astronauts, cosmonauts, technicians, scientists, and their families. These books place equal emphasis on the Soviets and the Americans and give priority to people over technology and nationalism and bring to life experiences that shaped the lives of astronauts and cosmonauts and forever changed their world and ours.
Authors Melvin Croft and John Youskauskas bring us the newest addition to this exciting series with Come Fly with Us: NASA’s Payload Specialist Program, now available. Relatively unknown to the public and often flying only single missions, the payload specialists—an elite group of space travelers who flew as members of many space shuttle crews from pre-Challenger days to Columbia in 2003—give the reader an unusual perspective on the experience of human spaceflight. The authors also bring to light NASA’s struggle to integrate the wide-ranging personalities and professions of these men and women into the professional astronaut ranks.
While many astronauts and even citizens have reached space, some, never quite made it off the ground. Shattered Dreams: The Lost and Canceled Space Missions (May 2019) delves into the personal stories and recollections of several men and women who were in line to fly a specific or future space mission but lost that opportunity due to personal reasons, mission cancellations, or even tragedies. Bringing to new life such episodes and upheavals in spaceflight history as the the three Apollo missions that were cancelled due to budgetary constraints; NASA astronaut Patricia Hilliard Robertson, who died of burn injuries after her airplane crashed before she had a chance to fly into space; and a female cosmonaut who might have become the first journalist to fly in space, these are incredibly human stories told with care and passion.