Final Countdown: NASA and the End of the Space Shuttle Program

Final Countdown: NASA and the End of the Space Shuttle Program

by Pat Duggins
Pub. Date:
University Press of Florida


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Final Countdown: NASA and the End of the Space Shuttle Program

The Space Shuttle was once the cornerstone of the U.S. space program. However, each new flight brings us one step closer to the retirement of the shuttle in 2010. Final Countdown is the riveting history of NASA's Space Shuttle program, its missions, and its impending demise. It also examines the plans and early development of the space agency's next major effort: the Orion Crew Exploration Capsule. Journalist Pat Duggins, National Public Radio's resident space expert, chronicles the planning stages of the shuttle program in the early 1970s, the thrills of the first flight in 1981, construction of the International Space Station in the 1990s, and the decision in the early 2000s to shut it down. As a rookie reporter visiting the Kennedy Space Center hangar to view the Challenger wreckage, Duggins was in a unique position to offer a poignant eyewitness account of NASA's first shuttle disaster. In Final Countdown, he recounts the agency's struggle to rebound after the Challenger and Columbia tragedies, and explores how politics, scientific entrepreneurship, and the human drive for exploration have impacted the program in sometimes unexpected ways. Duggins has covered eighty-six shuttle missions, and his twenty-year working relationship with NASA has given him unprecedented access to personnel. Many spoke openly and frankly with him, including veteran astronaut John Young, who discusses the travails to get the shuttle program off the ground. Young's crewmate, astronaut Bob Crippen, reveals the frustration and loss he felt when his first opportunity to go into space on the first planned space station was taken away. As the shuttle program winds down, more astronauts may facesimilar disappointments. Final Countdown is a story of lost dreams, new hopes, and the ongoing conquest of space.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813033846
Publisher: University Press of Florida
Publication date: 03/01/2009
Pages: 264
Sales rank: 1,285,324
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Pat Duggins, National Public Radio's resident "space expert," is senior news analyst at public radio station WMFE-FM in Orlando.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     viii
Prologue     ix
The Future     1
New Spaceship, New Astronauts     26
1981: The Path to STS-1     39
1982-1985: The Curse of Being Routine     60
1986: "Don't Call Unless It Blows Up"     74
The Investigation     81
1988-1992: Back on the Horse     96
1993: The Road to Mir     112
1998: ISS, the Shotgun Marriage     144
Columbia     163
The Aftermath     180
Back on the Horse, Again     197
The Moon, Maybe, but Mars?     212
Epilogue     223
Notes     231
Suggested Reading     241
Index     243

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