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Sky Walking: An Astronaut's Memoir

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Overview

Most books about the saints are thin on women, especially contemporary women. Even Butler's LIVES OF THE SAINTS, the 'bible' of this category, lists far more men than women. No book about the saints could ignore such beloved early martyrs as Agnes of Rome and Lucy of Syracuse but this new book will introduce readers to many new women who have been canonized or beatified by Pope John Paul II. Of the more than 377 women mentioned in the book, 159 have been canonized or beatified since 1979. Approximately 100 of them lived in the twentieth century.

This new book is also unique in that it uses the saint's own words wherever possible, taking advantage of newly discovered archives, memoirs and other primary sources. It will contain resources such as internet shrines and other websites, as well as little–known information on the canonization process.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
"The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible." This quotation from Arthur C. Clarke appears as a chapter epigraph in this astronaut memoir, but it could stand as the motto for the entire book. Sky Walking brims with Tom Jones's keen awareness of the momentousness and wonder of literally stepping out into space, something he did often: On his four shuttle missions, scientist Jones spent more than 53 days in space, including 19 hours of space walking. A moving account of moving beyond the earth's orbit.
Neil Armstrong
“A‘tell it like it is’ flight crew report of living and working in space . . . An inside story—well told!”
Dale Brown
“It’s a story filled with excitement, disappointment, frustration, danger, triumph, and tragedy… It’s a thrilling ride.”
Andrew Chaikin
“…Tom Jones got to live the dream. Here is his extraordinary story, told with vivid clarity, candor, and style.”
John H. Glenn
“What it’s like to be ‘in-the-program.’ ...an excellent account.”
Bruce Betts
“Tom Jones has set the benchmark for [describing life as] an astronaut in the shuttle era.”
Homer Hickam
“I can recommend no better read for the armchair astronaut than Sky Walking!”
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.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Shuttle veteran Jones reminisces about rocketing into space. Jones tells his story with no unnecessary drama-no filigree or chest-pounding here. Unfortunately, he doesn't provide much excitement either. The author seems like the prototypical guy whom NASA would hire. An air force pilot and CIA scientist-he can't go into much detail on the latter, more's the shame-he was picked to join the 1989 crop of "Ascans" ("astronaut candidates"), nicknamed the "Hairballs," for foggy reasons. Not until 1994 was Jones finally allowed to head into space aboard the shuttle Endeavour. He renders that trip rousingly, but it's the first of four, and Jones makes little attempt to add a human touch that might have differentiated them. Plenty of time is spent on the mechanics of space flight, including descriptions of pulling six Gs on liftoff and the painful wear and tear that the "launch and entry suit" exacts on anyone stuffed inside it. In the process, Jones reminds readers of the unbelievable patience that shuttle astronauts most possess; he characterizes one especially difficult space station mission as, "like backing a Lamborghini out of the garage with your eyes closed, knowing that if you dented a fender, the nearest body shop was 240 miles away-straight down." The unfailingly decent author has little bad to say about anybody and takes his duties as an astronaut extremely seriously. Lacking the touch of the true writer, this sober approach results in something less like a book than a setup for a NASA fundraiser. For the true space enthusiast only.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060884369
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/30/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet 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.

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Read an Excerpt

Sky Walking

An Astronaut's Memoir
By Thomas Jones

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Thomas Jones
All right reserved.

ISBN: 006085152X

Chapter One

No Way Out

Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to stern resolve. He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind.
Leonardo DaVinci (1452-1519), Notebooks

November 28, 1996--Thanksgiving evening. The space-suit fan whirred quietly behind my head, pumping the weightless oxygen from backpack to helmet as I drifted in the airlock. The shuttle Columbia had completed 144 orbits of Earth. By this tenth day of our mission, we had recaptured the Wake Shield Facility, our space-based computer chip factory, and berthed it safely into the shuttle's payload bay, its mission complete. The other satellite we had deployed on this science mission, an ultraviolet astronomical telescope called ORFEUS-SPAS, trailed us in orbit by about thirty miles, busily surveying the heavens. In the four days before we chased down the telescope, we had an exciting new task to perform. It was time to prove that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA's) plans for building a space station were practical and workable in the weightless environment of orbit. For our five-person crew on the eightieth mission of the Space TransportationSystem, or STS-80, this traditional American holiday was no day off. I had trained hard for six years for this moment.

Sealed inside the cramped canister-shaped compartment at the rear of Columbia's crew cabin, Tammy Jernigan and I were still connected to the orbiter's power and oxygen supplies by a pair of life-support umbilicals. Tammy, our crew's lead space walker, pushed aside a tangle of drifting tools and grasped the chamber's depressurization valve with a weightless glove. Cleared by Mission Control, she rotated the black knob to its open position: the life-giving air surrounding us roared through the valve directly into the vacuum of space. The only thing between us and space was the thin metal of the airlock's rear hatch. It was hard to imagine that there were no more practice sessions in NASA's Weightless Environment Training Facility (WETF) standing between us and our two planned space walks. But here we were, suited up and ready, not submerged in a big swimming pool but immersed in the real thing at last. Hovering above Tammy's backpack, I glanced down at the digital readout on my own suit and saw something never seen in our space-walk training under water: the airlock pressure was creeping toward zero.

The countdown to this first extravehicular activity (EVA) had gone perfectly so far. Story Musgrave, our veteran crewmate and in-cabin partner, had marched us through the preparation checklist, and as usual, his practiced eye had missed nothing. He had double-checked every detail of suit-up, and about thirty minutes earlier he had closed the hatch leading from Columbia's middeck, isolating Tammy and me from the crew cabin. Now, as my fingertips tingled with anticipation, we were executing the "Airlock Depress" checklist, with hatch opening just ahead.

Racing through my mind were the details of the six hours of work awaiting us outside. In our 130 hours of underwater drills and endless tabletop rehearsals, Tammy and I had burned into our memories every key task of our upcoming weightless ballet. Only by sticking with our tightly scripted timeline could we make it through the space walk's long list of Space Station assembly tests. All the WETF (pronounced Wet-F) rehearsals, the hours spent working out the orbital choreography, the space-suited vacuum chamber tests, and our final checklist review in the cabin last night lay behind us now. Outside, the new Space Station cargo crane waited for us in its payload bay cradle. Opposite the crane on the orbiter sidewall was a station solar array battery swathed in white thermal insulation, and the new station tools were nestled in their storage lockers down on the cargo bay floor. There was no time to methodically go over the whole plan again. Instead, I focused on the first few steps that would get me out the door; once there, I would rely on slipping into the comfortable groove that repetition had worn into our memories.

When the airlock pressure dropped down from the sea-level value of 14.7 pounds per square inch (psi) to 5, Tammy halted the depressurization for a planned space-suit leak check. Her suit pressure was running slightly high, but her breathing would soon consume enough oxygen to bring the reading within operational limits. My gauge reading was perfect at 4.3 psi, the pressure at which the suit's pure oxygen atmosphere would fully charge our blood with the life-giving gas. Satisfied, Tammy twisted the depressurization valve wide open, and the remaining air molecules fled into the void outside. Under the dim fluorescent lights of the airlock, we drifted in the hard vacuum conditions of space, where the pressure was less than one ten-billionth of that at sea level.

Still connected to the orbiter by our suit umbilicals, we got the critical "Go" from Story to open the airlock hatch. In a moment we would be out the door, "on stage" at last. The butterflies in my stomach were in full zero-g flight; feeling something akin to stage fright, I was more fearful of making a mistake in front of my colleagues than of the EVA hazards of micrometeoroids, searing temperatures, radiation, and hard vacuum.

With her gloved left hand gripping the yellow handrail rimming the outer hatch, Tammy reached out, grabbed the hatch handle with her other hand, and spun the crank clockwise. About 30 degrees through its single revolution the handle stopped unexpectedly. When she tried again, this time with more muscle, the force of her effort swung her weightless body back up toward me. I could hear her determined breathing over the intercom, but the handle resisted her efforts to advance it further. After straining through a half-dozen attempts with no success, she called for reinforcements. "Tom, it won't budge. Swap places and you have a go at it."

Continues...


Excerpted from Sky Walking by Thomas Jones Copyright © 2006 by Thomas Jones. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Foreword   John W. Young     ix
Acknowledgments     xiii
Earth
No Way Out     3
Astronauts Wanted: Travel Required     10
Who's Got the Right Stuff?     29
Countdown to First Flight     51
Seeing Earth in a New Way     63
Final Count     79
Shuttle
Earth and Sky     105
The Only Man Available     130
Back in the Pool     152
Go for EVA!     168
Through the Fire     190
Station
The International Space Station     217
A Clash of Cultures     228
Destiny     240
Rendezvous     266
Stepping Out     288
High Steel in Orbit     303
Sky Walking     309
Reentry     319
Shock Waves     327
Epilogue: A New Odyssey     339
Mission Statistics     346
Glossary     349
Bibliography     359
Index     361
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Customer Reviews

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( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 27, 2013

    It¿s rare to find a book that lives up to the accolades printed

    It’s rare to find a book that lives up to the accolades printed on the front and back covers. If critical acclaim brings a quality book to your attention, then the blurbs have served a good purpose. But it’s especially satisfying to find a book that far exceeds the hype of the book cover artist’s craft.

    Such a book is Sky Walking by astronaut Tom Jones. Four-time Space Shuttle mission veteran, Jones has a deft, incisive writing style that brings his experiences to life for the armchair astronaut in a way few other such books can. And, unlike most, Jones’ name appears alone as author.

    Jones handles descriptions with subtlety and skill. Vivid imagery abounds. Exposition is complete, but parceled out frugally. With four shuttle missions to convey, Jones wisely did not try to tell everything each time. Instead, the first launch and re-entry was shown through the eyes of a first time shuttle astronaut. It was all about the sensations and the thrill of the experience. More detailed information about the process of launching, flying and landing a shuttle comes along with Jones’ other three missions.

    His important space walks, early International Space Station constructions missions, are reported with such immediacy and crystal clarity that you feel as if you are seeing it for yourself.

    If you enjoy this genre, you should not miss this book. Reading it, I was reminded of the line in the movie “Contact” when the protagonist is awed by what she sees, and wails “They should have sent a poet!” In Tom Jones, it seems to me that they did.

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  • Posted March 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Just What I expected of Tom

    I met Tom back in Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance AFB, OK. Because of Tom's idea, he named our UPT Class "The Force", after the recent movie of "Star Wars" 1977... All of us thought it was an outstanding idea... Many years passed, we went our ways in pursuit of our dreams and obligations until one day at 02:00 A.M with the Public Broadcast channel on, when NASA is waking up one of the astronauts by the nam of Tom. When I heard his voice, I knew it was Tom. I felt very proud for him, I knew right then that NASA had hired a class act, a man with the utmost integrity, Intelligence and dedication to this country and to anything else he would put his mind into.

    Thank you Tom for writting such a magnificent book and I am looking forward to read other books you may write in the future.

    "May The Force always be with you my friend"

    Captain Rene Blanco-Lopez USAF/ANG (Ret.)
    Captain USAirways Airbus 320

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2006

    An Astronaut's Heart, Mind, and Spirit

    Tom Jones has eloquently captured what it means to become a person of space. From the elation of being selected, to the rigors of training, to the desire to be the best in support of his fellow Astronauts and his family, Tom has revealed the human world behind the pinnacle of mankind¿s technical achievements in space flight. After all the training and scientific discovery he has reminded us that it¿s the people involved that make the difference and the joy. And part of the refreshing approach of this book are the places where Tom has let us into the few mistakes and human failures that are part of any large scale high risk endeavor. What could be more real? He has highlighted the struggles, the joys, and the indescribable beauty of just floating at a window and looking at the earth rolling by below. But Tom has also shown us where his hard work and that of his fellow Astronauts has greatly benefited all of us in very practical ways including future earthquake prediction and associated science. Enjoy this book and the lives it portrays and you will gain more understanding about why we must continue to `climb the next mountain¿ in human space exploration ¿ because it¿s one of the things that makes us most human discovering together.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2006

    A Definite 'Must-Read'

    Superbly well-written, a definite ¿must-read,¿ Sky Walking is a consistently engaging and historically relevant book penned by a versatile intelligence with rare insight, integrity, generosity, and candor. From astronaut selection and training through four space flights encompassing a unique experiential blend of Space Shuttle, Space Station, and spacewalking adventures, astronaut Tom Jones deftly recreates the breathtaking ¿ and breath holding ¿ moments of space flight. Furthermore, this author has a great talent for placing the reader into the launch seat and maintaining the thrill of space exploration while adroitly (often wittily) synthesizing otherwise complex technical events into understandable terms that help create a suddenly space-savvy reader. In addition, Dr. Jones approaches space flight from an holistic perspective that goes beyond chronology. Whether documenting the motivations behind policy decisions that determine history, providing enlightenment to the creative possibilities of future flight, or writing with a reflective earnestness that rediscovers the basic factors and integral elements of faith and family in human life, Dr. Tom Jones has written a book that will be read again and again ¿ now and for generations to come.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2006

    An intensely human account of life in space

    Tom Jones has taken us behind the scenes of life in space and described as very human experience that ought to be standard reading in NASA and for everyone else who is interested in space and thinking about going there. It certainly should be read by the growing number of ordinary citizens headed for Earth orbit. A wonderful, exhilarating, ride.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2006

    Sky Walking: An Astronaut's Memoir

    Astronaut Tom Jones, in Sky Walking, combines warm human emotions and precise scientific clarity in a way that has been matched only by Mike Collins¿s classic Carrying the Fire. Jones¿s book should be required reading for every high school student in America, both for its inspiration and for its great moral lesson that hard work and persistence can carry your talent to the stars. Sky Walking is a brilliant book that teaches as it inspires. The book is far more substantial than its subtitle ¿An Astronaut¿s Memoir¿ indicates, for it is a brilliant argument for the continued pursuit of manned exploration of space. The author packs in an immense amount of information about the space program¿and the people in it---making it a must-read for any astronaut aspirant and for any citizen who wants to see just how great a country is the United States. At a time when budgets and tragedies cast a shadow on the future of manned exploration, this book shows exactly why it is absolutely vital for America¿s future. If anyone has grown jaded by the space program and its problems, he or she should sit up and read this fascinating account of the tremendous effort that goes into the making not only of an astronaut, but of our nation¿s continued pursuit of manned space flight. Readers will be both amazed and surprised: this book is an epiphany of the nitty-gritty of spaceflight, which revolves not only around science, but continually circles back to the enabling human element.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2006

    Sky Walking: An Astronaut's Memoir

    Astronaut Tom Jones, in Sky Walking, combines warm human emotions and precise scientific clarity in a way that has been matched only by Mike Collins¿s classic Carrying the Fire. Jones¿s book should be required reading for every high school student in America, both for its inspiration and for its great moral lesson that hard work and persistence can carry your talent to the stars. Sky Walking is a brilliant book that teaches as it inspires. The book is far more substantial than its subtitle ¿An Astronaut¿s Memoir¿ indicates, for it is a brilliant argument for the continued pursuit of manned exploration of space. The author packs in an immense amount of information about the space program¿and the people in it---making it a must-read for any astronaut aspirant and for any citizen who wants to see just how great a country is the United States. At a time when budgets and tragedies cast a shadow on the future of manned exploration, this book shows exactly why it is absolutely vital for America¿s future. If anyone has grown jaded by the space program and its problems, he or she should sit up and read this fascinating account of the tremendous effort that goes into the making not only of an astronaut, but of our nation¿s continued pursuit of manned space flight. Readers will be both amazed and surprised: this book is an epiphany of the nitty-gritty of spaceflight, which revolves not only around science, but continually circles back to the enabling human element.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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