Near the end of the Apollo 15 mission, David Scott and fellow moonwalker James Irwin conducted a secret ceremony unsanctioned by NASA: they placed on the lunar soil a small tin figurine called The Fallen Astronaut, along with a plaque bearing a list of names. By telling the stories of those sixteen astronauts and cosmonauts who died in the quest to reach the moon between 1962 and 1972, this book enriches the saga of humankind’s greatest scientific undertaking, Project Apollo, and conveys the human cost of the space race.
Many people are aware of the first manned Apollo mission, in which Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee lost their lives in a fire during a ground test, but few know of the other five fallen astronauts whose stories this book tells as well, including Ted Freeman and C.C. Williams, who died in the crashes of their T-38 jets; the “Gemini Twins,” Charlie Bassett and Elliot See, killed when their jet slammed into the building where their Gemini capsule was undergoing final construction; and Ed Givens, whose fatal car crash has until now been obscured by rumors. Supported by extensive interviews and archival material, the extraordinary lives and accomplishments of these and other fallen astronauts—including eight Russian cosmonauts who lost their lives during training—unfold here in intimate and compelling detail. Their stories return us to a stirring time in the history of our nation and remind us of the cost of fulfilling our dreams. This revised edition includes expanded and revised biographies and additional photographs.
Eight of America's early astronauts, selected to participate in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs, died while employed by NASA. Three of the eight--Roger Chaffee, Gus Grissom and Ed White--are fairly well known, having died in a gruesome fire during a training exercise in the Apollo 1 command module on January 27, 1967. The other five are far less familiar. Four perished in jet crashes (Ted Freeman, Elliot See, Charlie Bassett and C.C. Williams) while one (Ed Givens) died in a car crash. Unfortunately, Burgess (Teacher in Space) and Doolan (coauthor, Mission to Planet Earth) tell their stories in turgid and repetitive prose, failing to dig beneath the surface and thus providing remarkably little insight into the men, their time or the agency for which they worked. Unlike virtually every other book dealing with the personalities of the astronauts, this one leads us to believe that all were single-minded saints, with no human foibles. Rounding out the book is a chapter written by Vis, a Dutch space analyst, detailing the lives and deaths of the eight Soviet cosmonauts who died between 1961 and 1971. This chapter is even weaker than the rest; little meaningful information is presented and there are factual conflicts with the American chapters. While the untimely deaths of good, talented men evoke pathos, these abbreviated biographies do not deepen understanding of them. 37 b&w photos.