Into the Black
On 12th April 1981 a revolutionary new spacecraft blasted off from Florida on her maiden flight. NASA's Space Shuttle Columbia was the most advanced flying machine ever built - the high watermark of post-war aviation development. A direct descendant of the record-breaking X-planes the likes of which Chuck Yeager had tested in the skies over the Mojave Desert, Columbia was a winged rocket plane, the size of an airliner, capable of flying to space and back before being made ready to fly again. She was the world's first real spaceship. On board were men with the Right Stuff. The Shuttle's Commander, moonwalker John Young, was already a veteran of five spaceflights. Alongside him, Pilot Bob Crippen was making his first, but Crip, taken in by the space agency after the cancellation of a top secret military space station programme in 1969, had worked on the Shuttle's development for a decade. Never before had a crew been so well prepared for their mission. Yet less than an hour after Young and Crippen's spectacular departure from the Cape it was clear that all was not well. Tiles designed to protect Columbia from the blowtorch burn of re-entry were missing from the heatshield. If the damage to their ship was too great the astronauts would be unable to return safely to earth. But neither they nor mission control possessed any way of knowing. Instead, NASA turned to the National Reconnaissance Office, a spy agency hidden deep inside the Pentagon whose very existence was classified. To help, the NRO would attempt something that had never been done before. Success would require skill, pinpoint timing and luck ...Drawing on brand new interviews with astronauts and engineers, archive material and newly declassified documents, Rowland White, bestselling author of Vulcan 607, has pieced together the dramatic untold story of the mission for the first time. Into the Black is a thrilling race against time; a gripping high stakes cold-war story, and a celebration of a beyond the state-of-the-art machine that, hailed as one of the seven new wonders of the world, rekindled our passion for spaceflight. It comes with a foreword by Astronaut Richard Truly. "Beautifully researched and written, Into the Black tells the true, complete story of the Space Shuttle better than it's ever been told before." (Colonel Chris Hadfield, former Astronaut and Space Station Commander). "Brilliantly revealed, Into the Black is the finely tuned true story of the first flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia. Rowland White has magnificently laid bare the unknown dangers and unseen hazards of that first mission ...Once read, not forgotten." (Clive Cussler).
A spellbinding account of the first flight of the Space Shuttle, one of the great technological developments of the late 20th century
"Brilliantly revealed, Into the Black is the finely tuned true story of the first flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia. Rowland White has magnificently laid bare the unknown dangers and unseen hazards of that first mission. He has also given us a amazing insight into a world of science and engineering, the victories and defeats, for the first time. It's the perfect tale that educates as it entertains. Once read, not forgotten" -- Clive Cussler "Beautifully researched and written, Into The Black tells the true, complete story of the Space Shuttle better than it's ever been told before." -- Col. Chris Hadfield, astronaut, Space Station commander, author of You Are Here and An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth "Beautifully researched and written, Into The Black tells the true, complete story of the Space Shuttle better than it's ever been told before." -- Col. Chris Hadfield, astronaut, Space Station commander, author of You Are Here and An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth "A drama of flight and raw human courage, with the lustre of myth. Into the Black is a brilliant concept, brilliantly executed. You'll feel like you made the flight yourself. Strap in." -- Stephen Baxter, author of Voyage and Titan "A work of great importance - knitting together separate strands of what has so far been a hidden story worth the telling but largely ignored. I am impressed by the thoroughness of scholarship and the crafting of an important piece of research into a highly readable narrative. Illuminates a complex piece of space history left in the shadows until now. Readable and impossible to put down" -- Dr David Baker (Editor, Spaceflight)
Rowland White is the author of three bestselling books of military history: Vulcan 607; Phoenix Squadron; Storm Front. He lives in Cambridgeshire with his wife and three children.