Sky Walking: An Astronaut's Memoir

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9780060884369: Sky Walking: An Astronaut's Memoir

A gripping first-hand account of life in space and the making of an astronaut. What is it like to fly the space shuttle and work on and in the International Space Station? Veteran NASA astronaut Tom Jones is uniquely qualified to give the details: he flew four shuttle missions and led three space walks to deliver the US Lab to the Station. . From B-52 pilot during the Cold War, to a PhD in planetary science, to the unbelievable rigors of astronaut training, his career inevitably pointed him toward the space shuttle. Until the Challenger exploded. Jones's story is the first to candidly explain the professional and personal hardships faced by the astronauts in the aftermath of that 1986 tragedy. He certainly has 'The Right Stuff' but also found himself wondering if the risks he undertook were worth the toll on his family. Liftoffs were especially nerve-wracking (his mother, who refuses to even get on a plane, cannot watch) but his 53 days in space were unforgettable adventures. Jones uses his background as a scientist to explain the practical applications of many of the shuttle's scientific missions, and describes what it's like to work with the international crews building and living aboard the space station. Tom Jones returned from his space station voyage to assess the impact of the 2003 Columbia tragedy, and prescribes a successful course for the U.S. in space. Stunning photographs, many taken in space, illustrate his amazing journey. 25 b/w photographs

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About the Author:

Born and raised in Maryland, Tom Jones was a Distinguished Graduate of the United States Air Force Academy. During his career, he has piloted B-52s, earned a doctorate in planetary science, and worked for the CIA. He entered the NASA astronaut program in 1990 and flew four missions on the space shuttle. He lives with his family in Northern Virginia.

From Publishers Weekly:

With humanity and passion (and less swagger than Mike Mullane), Jones powerfully brings to life the world of the modern NASA astronaut. Confined to low Earth orbit, no longer tasked with high-profile trips to the Moon, a small corps of dedicated professional space travelers work on serious science and dream of the day they will fly into space. Countless on-the-ground training hours prepare the astronauts for the rigors of space travel—practicing an extravehicular space walk in a 10-million-gallon tank or being flung around in a 100,000-horsepower centrifuge to acclimate to the eight g's of force experienced on lift-off. A tested B-52 bomber pilot and planetary scientist, Jones still feels and expresses wonder at space flight: "I was thirty-nine when I stepped out on the pad [in 1994] with the rest of the crew, but I gazed up at Endeavor with a child's amazement.... I shivered with excitement at the sight of my now-ready spaceship." While the twin tragedies of Challenger and Columbia hang over the story like a pall, Jones still manages to fire the spirit and invite the reader to imagine a place for humankind beyond planet Earth. (Feb.)
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