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National Federation of Press Women National Communications Contest, First Place for Autobiography/Memoir Delaware Press Association Communications Contest, First Place for Autobiography/Memoir 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 and providing live support as part of the Mission Control Center's backroom team. 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 preventable failures that led to the loss of fourteen 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.
The details Clemons provides are what make the book so memorable. . . . The main story is economically and briskly told, bolstered by a thoughtful, helpful appendix, as well as a collection of direct questions ('Did Apollo 10 Almost Crash into the Moon?') and frank answers."-Publishers Weekly
"An engineer and software manager who worked on both the Apollo and space shuttle flights rehearses some behind-the-scenes activity during the decades he worked with NASA. . . . A narrative rocket powered by experience, intelligence, knowledge, and gratitude."-Kirkus