Spacewalker – My Journey in Space and Faith as NASA’s Record-Setting Frequent Flyer by Jerry Ross with John Norberg; Purdue University Press, $29.95; 2013.
As a former astronaut, Jerry Ross has written a personal account of his childhood in rural Indiana, then taking a career path that eventually led him into Earth orbit – not once but seven times. Via his numerous space journeys, he racked up nearly 1,400 hours in space, including over 58 hours carrying out nine space walks.
What I found particularly valuable is the book’s reflective view concerning the now dismantled Space Shuttle program. These types of accounts will become all the more priceless as the winged shuttle glides into and firmly finds its niche in the space history books.
A good percentage of this well-written volume gives the reader a true behind-the-scene view of NASA as an agency, and the inner and outer workings of the Space Shuttle enterprise.
In a chilling chapter, Ross recounts that dreadful day in February 2003 when Shuttle Columbia and its crew were lost. “And as it was with Challenger,” Ross explains, “this accident was something that could have been prevented.”
The book concludes in somewhat bittersweet sentiment.
“Retiring when I did was the right time for me, but as my final day at NASA [in 2012] approached, I had some feelings that I was a rat leaving a sinking ship,” Ross writes.
Still, the former astronaut is bullish on the future of space exploration. And overall, this book provides inspiration to those aspiring to become a space traveler – a call that must draw upon reservoirs of perseverance, dedication, as well as faith.
Gazing up at the stars, from 10 years old onward, Jerry Ross knew that he wanted to fly into space. He concludes: “Working in our country’s space program and flying in space were even better and even more rewarding than I ever dreamed.”
Ross worked on the book with John Norberg, an experienced journalist and the author of five books, including Wings of Their Dreams (2003) about the role of aviation’s pioneers and trailblazers in the history of flight and space.
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By Leonard David