Monday, September 8, 2014

Read an Inspiring and Interesting Astronaut Biography

Jerry Ross, a Purdue graduate and NASA frequent flyer, generously shares his story in this autobiography. Like many of us who went to school post-Sputnik, Jerry grew up idolizing astronauts and expecting to pursue a STEM career (it wasn't called STEM at the time) in order to keep America number one in science and technology.  He joined the Air Force, where he became a flight engineer and successfully applied to the astronaut program at NASA.  He logged over fifty-eight hours on spacewalks and is tied for first place for the number of times he was launched into space: seven!
As a Purdue graduate myself (BSIE '84) I enjoyed Jerry's account of his Purdue years and the time he spent with future astronauts (like himself!) In his accounts of the more mundane aspects of student life, I was interested to find that the Purdue I went to in the early eighties was not much different from the Purdue of the sixties: the engineering work ethic, Triple X burgers, married student housing on Nimitz Drive, etc.
Jerry was a college student when the Apollo 1 crew died on the launch pad. He was in the Space Shuttle program when Challenger exploded and on the team that recovered the remains of Columbia. When he gives his account of what went wrong, he knows what he's talking about.
Read this book for a look at a real astronaut. Not just a highly-trained technology beast, Jerry has family, friends, and strong Christian faith as well. He even gives detailed descriptions of what things look like from space: sunrise and sunset, the continents, a thunderstorm. You will feel like you were there.
This book is recommended reading for Purdue fans, space enthusiasts, and anyone from Indiana--as well as everyone else! 
I received a free electronic review copy of Spacewalker from NetGalley.