Academic journal article Air & Space Power Journal

Fallen Astronauts: Heroes Who Died Reaching for the Moon

Academic journal article Air & Space Power Journal

Fallen Astronauts: Heroes Who Died Reaching for the Moon

Article excerpt

Fallen Astronauts: Heroes Who Died Reaching for the Moon by Colin Burgess and Kate Doolan, with Bert Vis. University of Nebraska Press (http://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu), 233 North 8th Street, Lincoln, Nebraska 68588-0255, 2003, 272 pages, $40.00 (hardcover), $25.00 (softcover).

On 20 July 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. This pinnacle achievement in the history of the United States and the world, however, came with a significant cost. At the height of the space race between America and the Soviet Union in the 1960s, eight astronauts tragically perished: four died in aircraft crashes, three succumbed to fire in the Apollo 1 capsule, and another lost his life in an automobile accident. Colin Burgess and Kate Doolan provide comprehensive accounts of the lives and deaths of these men. Their exhaustive research and concise writing have produced an account that grips the reader's attention from cover to cover. In addition, the deceased astronauts' families provided many of the book's 37 photographs, giving us a rare glimpse into both their public and private personas.

Fallen Astronauts begins with the life and death of Capt Theodore C. Freeman, USAF, an exceptional pilot who became an astronaut in 1963. While flying a normal training mission in October 1964, Freeman's T-38 aircraft was struck by geese during the landing approach at Ellington AFB, Texas. Freeman thus became the first of America's space heroes to die. Subsequent chapters focus on the fiery crash in February 1966 of another T-38, this one piloted by astronauts Elliott M. See and Charles Bassett, scheduled to fly together in Gemini 9, the deaths of Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee in the Apollo 1 fire at Cape Kennedy in January 1967; Ed Givens's tragic automobile accident in a Houston suburb in June 1967; and the death of C. …

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