Outward Odyssey Authors Reflect on First Flights

The Outward Odyssey series provides 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. Series brings to life experiences that shaped the lives of astronauts and cosmonauts and forever changed their world and ours.

As NASA and SpaceX prepare for the first launch of astronauts from U.S. soil since the last flight of the shuttle nine years ago, the AIAA Los Angeles Section hosts authors from the Outward Odyssey series of spaceflight history books for an online panel discussion of the preparation, risk and excitement that go into first flights of new vehicles on Saturday, May 23 at 10:00 am PDT.

From the daring test pilots who risk their lives in cutting-edge planes to pave the way to space, to the first launches of new vehicles from Apollo to the Shuttle, to the dawning of the new era of commercial spaceflight, panelists will share stories from history on the eve of a new chapter of history beginning. Details on how to RSVP and log in to the panel can be found here.

The speaking panelists are Michelle Evans, Emiline Paat-Dahlstrom, Richard Jurek, David Hitt, Francis French, Mel Croft, and Geoffrey Bowman.

Michelle Evans is the author of The X-15 Rocket Plane (Nebraska, 2013) which tells the story of the X-15, the pioneering research flight program in the ’50s and ’60s and its pilots.

Emiline Paat-Dahlstrom is the coauthor of Realizing Tomorrow (Nebraska, 2011), an engaging account of the people and events who have shaped the development of private spaceflight.

Richard Jurek’s The Ultimate Engineer (Nebraska, 2019) details the remarkable life of George M. Low and his career at NASA. An aeronautical engineer, Low worked as a research scientist for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in the 1950s before being appointed to NASA management, where as chief of manned spaceflight he was instrumental in the success of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. The Ultimate Engineer casts new light on Low’s remarkable life, accomplishments, and legacy in the golden age of U.S. manned spaceflight.

David Hitt is the co-author of Bold They Rise (Nebraska, 2014) and the co-author, with astronauts Owen Garriott and Joe Kerwin, of Homesteading Space (Nebraska, 2011). Bold They Rise recounts the “Golden Age” of the Space Shuttle—from its first to its twenty-fifth launch, ending with the tragic flight of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Homesteading Space is a complete history of Skylab that pays particular attention to the individual missions and people who served aboard it, along with accounts of daily life and the experiences of the crews.

Francis French is the author of numerous history books and has commented on science, engineering, music, astronomy, art, and wildlife to general audiences through classes, workshops, public speaking, television and documentary productions. He is the editor (and discoverer) of Donn Eisele’s memoir Apollo Pilot (Nebraska, 2017). In October 1968 Donn Eisele flew with fellow astronauts Walt Cunningham and Wally Schirra into Earth orbit in Apollo 7. The first manned mission in the Apollo program and the first manned flight after a fire during a launch pad test killed three astronauts in early 1967, Apollo 7 helped restart NASA’s manned-spaceflight program.

Mel Croft is the coauthor of Come Fly With Us (Nebraska, 2019) with John Youskauskas. This book focuses on the early selection, training, and spaceflight experiences of a new class of astronaut known as “payload specialists.”

Geoffrey Bowman is a contributor to Footprints in the Dust (Nebraska, 2010).

Tune in to their discussion on May 23 for a relaxing and informative Saturday!

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