"An unforgettable book, one destined to become a classic in the emerging field of space history. Moving effortlessly from planning meetings in obscure offices within NASA, the Pentagon, and industry to the unforgiving environment of high-risk flight test and flight into space, this book traces a remarkable journey and, along the way, introduces his readers to a courageous group of far-seeing engineers and astronauts whose bold vision and tenacious work gave humanity its first reusable space transportation system."
"This account of America's greatest and, in hindsight, most dangerous manned spaceflight is a fantastic read. After I started it, I read it straight through. For more than spaceflight geeks, this is the story of an astonishing adventure that, despite the outward confidence of NASA, could have and perhaps should have gone horribly wrong."
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 an 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.
"An absolutely terrific look into the birth of the Space Shuttle! Into the Black expertly captures, as never before, a history that spans decades, Cold War tensions, bureaucratic infighting and a multitude of seemingly impossible engineering challenges.But it’s much more than merely the cold facts of how the nuts and bolts all came together. It’s about the people…the men, women, astronauts, engineers, managers, and contractors who had the vision, faith in themselves and sheer guts to believe the impossible could be done; that a reusable, manned, winged craft could be built to routinely fly to and from earth orbit. There are stories of courage and heart-accelerating fear in these pages that even I, as an astronaut, was unaware of."
Beautifully researched and written, Into The Black tells the true, complete story of the Space Shuttle better than it’s ever been told before.
Into the Black told me stuff I never knew before – and I worked at NASA for 30 years."
Rowland White’s account of Columbia’s inaugural flight in 1981,and all the preparations that led up to it, could not be a more timely reminder of what it takes to design, launch and fly a complex manned space vehicle. White’s research is thorough, his writing style is superb, and he has a gripping and fresh story to tell. This is a genuine ‘must-have’ book for anyone fascinated by the sharp end of space flight.”'
"This remarkable book describes the final (and unpublished) chapter in the 'Race to the Moon'! Between 1961 and 1963, four groups of astronauts were selected by the USA three groups were comprised of those pilots who were assigned to NASA and were highly publicized as men who explored the Moon. The fourth group disappeared into the “black” world of the CIA, the NRO, and the Top Secret Air Force“Manned Orbiting Laboratory.” This is the exciting first-told story of these exceptional pilots who only became known publicly during the development and first flights of the Space Shuttle – flights into the real Black of Space."
An extraordinary, carefully researched, tale of the evolution of America’s space program. White has unearthed a treasure trove of formerly highly classified facts and combined them with an insightful look at the people who developed and flew America’s early human spacecraft and the first Space Shuttle flight.
“Into the Black isn’t just spectacularly researched, it’s told like a thriller, unfolding the edge-of-death tale of the Space Shuttle Columbia’s maiden voyage in riveting fashion. Rowland White performs a rare feat here, stitching together comprehensive research—countless interviews, declassified files, flight documents—into a tale of courage and daring as streamlined and elegant as the aircraft herself. Buckle in and hold on tight—this thing's got jet propulsion.
Aviation historian White (The Big Book of Flight) explores the history of the American space program, leading up to an in-depth recounting of the first flight of Columbia. After opening with a teaser for the shuttle flight, White plunges into the early days of NASA and American space exploration, which may surprise readers looking for the story of Columbia and its astronauts. This flurry of names, dates, anagrams, and careers handily sets the stage, but the sense of these historical figures as people is largely lost until the book focuses on its main subject. The meticulous attention to detail also hampers and interrupts the narrative flow with unnecessarily specific information. However, the account of Columbia's flight is made richer by a greater sense of the fragility and ingenuity of the shuttle and the shuttle program. White's use of records and firsthand accounts from the Columbia program makes the stakes real and immediate, even with knowledge of the outcome. Readers with extensive knowledge of military planes and an interest in the politics of the space program will appreciate White's contextualizing of Columbia's first flight; the story may be slow going for other readers, but it is worth the effort. (Apr.)
Prepare to launch into the incredible true story of the space shuttle Columbia, which first took flight in 1981 and last disintegrated in the Earth's atmosphere in 2003. The details of how the spacecraft was conceived, designed, tested, and ultimately sent into space are laid out in mostly chronological order. Aviation expert White (Vulcan 607) tells of those involved: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the U.S. Air Force, and a talented group of men who flew Columbia. He discusses both the positive angles as well as the tragedies and pitfalls of building a vehicle that travels to space. This previously untold story is enlightened by interviews, newly declassified material, and oral histories. Some readers may be put off by the immense number of acronyms and technical jargon, but White includes a glossary of terms along with meticulous diagrams of the shuttle, bases, and a mission profile at the end. Information on Columbia's disastrous final flight is sparse, but the primary purpose of this book is to discuss the shuttle's humble beginnings. VERDICT Fans of White's previous works, NASA history, aeronautics, massive engineering feats, and tales of bravery will find this account highly enjoyable.—Jason L. Steagall, Gateway Technical Coll. Lib., Elkhorn, WI
An aviation historian revisits the conception, development, and inaugural flight of "the last American flying machine built to fly higher and faster than everything that had come before." Without the novelty and excitement attending the Mercury and Gemini missions and lacking the romance and triumphal moments that crowned Apollo, the Space Shuttle program has always been the poor stepchild in our manned space flight history, unfortunately better known for its disasters, the loss of the Challenger and Columbia spaceships, than its achievements. White (Vulcan 607: The Epic Story of the Most Remarkable British Air Attack Since the Second World War, 2012, etc.) returns us to the program's origins, the hugely complex problem of building a reusable workhorse intended to routinize space travel, the political environment that shaped so many decisions, and the tests and preparation leading up to his almost hour-by-hour re-creation of the launch. Astronauts, of course, take pride of place among his large cast of characters, especially Cmdr. John Young and Pilot Robert Crippen and backup crew Richard Truly and Joe Engle. White's smoothly readable account also features numerous lesser-known figures who played a crucial role in the orbiter's story and some behind-the-scenes names that became well-known to space enthusiasts. Throughout, the author demonstrates NASA's debt in terms of money, manpower, and expertise to the Air Force's scuttled Manned Orbiting Laboratory, a point made most effectively as he chronicles the fear and tension over the tiles that had come loose from Columbia's heat shield. Would the spaceship survive re-entry? Only difficult-to-retrieve photos from the Department of Defense's top-secret recon satellites could reassure flight managers and satisfy the crew they could, "traveling three times faster than any winged flying machine had ever flown," make it safely back to Earth, to an almost perfect landing on a dry lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base. For space aficionados especially but also a good choice for general readers seeking an introduction to an underappreciated, thrilling chapter in aerospace history.