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  • Published: 10 March 2016
  • ISBN: 9781446487938
  • Imprint: Transworld Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 640

Into the Black

A spellbinding account of the first flight of the Space Shuttle, one of the great technological developments of the late 20th century

On 12th April 1981 a revolutionary new spacecraft blasted off from Florida on her maiden flight. NASA's Space Shuttle Columbia was the most advanced flying machine ever built - the high watermark of post-war aviation development. A direct descendant of the record-breaking X-planes the likes of which Chuck Yeager had tested in the skies over the Mojave Desert, Columbia was a winged rocket plane, the size of an airliner, capable of flying to space and back before being made ready to fly again. She was the world's first real spaceship.

On board were men with the Right Stuff. The Shuttle's Commander, moonwalker John Young, was already a veteran of five spaceflights. Alongside him, Pilot Bob Crippen was making his first, but Crip, taken in by the space agency after the cancellation of a top secret military space station programme in 1969, had worked on the Shuttle's development for a decade. Never before had a crew been so well prepared for their mission.

Yet less than an hour after Young and Crippen's spectacular departure from the Cape it was clear that all was not well. Tiles designed to protect Columbia from the blowtorch burn of re-entry were missing from the heatshield. If the damage to their ship was too great the astronauts would be unable to return safely to earth. But neither they nor mission control possessed any way of knowing.

Instead, NASA turned to the National Reconnaissance Office, a spy agency hidden deep inside the Pentagon whose very existence was classified. To help, the NRO would attempt something that had never been done before. Success would require skill, pinpoint timing and luck .

Drawing on brand new interviews with astronauts and engineers, archive material and newly declassified documents, Rowland White, bestselling author of Vulcan 607, has pieced together the dramatic untold story of the mission for the first time. Into the Black is a thrilling race against time; a gripping high stakes cold-war story, and a celebration of a beyond the state-of-the-art machine that, hailed as one of the seven new wonders of the world, rekindled our passion for spaceflight.

*With a foreword by Astronaut Richard Truly*

'Beautifully researched and written, Into the Black tells the true, complete story of the Space Shuttle better than it's ever been told before.'
Colonel Chris Hadfield, former Astronaut and Space Station Commander

'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 . Once read, not forgotten.'
Clive Cussler

  • Published: 10 March 2016
  • ISBN: 9781446487938
  • Imprint: Transworld Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 640

About the author

Rowland White

Rowland White is the author of four critically acclaimed works of aviation history: Vulcan 607, Phoenix Squadron, Storm Front and Into the Black, as well as a compendium of aviation, The Big Book of Flight. Born and brought up in Cambridge, he studied Modern History at Liverpool University. In 2014 he launched Project Cancelled to produce apparel inspired by the best in aviation, space and other cool stuff. Find it at projectcancelled.com

For more information on Rowland White and his books visit his website at rowlandwhite.com or find him on Twitter at @rowlandwhite

Also by Rowland White

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Praise for Into the Black

Beautifully researched and written, Into the Black tells the true, complete story of the Space Shuttle better than it's ever been told before.

Colonel Chris Hadfield, former Astronaut and Space Station Commander

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 . Once read, not forgotten.

Clive Cussler

A drama of flight and raw human courage, with the lustre of myth. Into the Black is a brilliant concept, brilliantly executed. You'll feel like you made the flight yourself. Strap in.

Stephen Baxter, author of Voyage and Titan

Into the Black told me stuff I never knew before - and I worked at NASA for 30 years . a deep and enthralling read.

Mike Foale, former Astronaut and International Space Station Commander

A remarkable book.

David Scott, Commander of Apollo 15, Moonwalker

Absolutely terrific . There are stories of courage and heart-accelerating fear in these pages that even I, as an astronaut, was unaware of. If you have even a casual interest in the space program, read this book!

Mike Mullane, former Astronaut and author of Riding Rockets

In this gripping, real-life thriller, Rowland White introduces us to the engineers, test pilots, and astronauts who created the space shuttle and executed the "boldest test flight in history" . Into the Black lives up to the legacy of the ship I flew and loved.

Tom Jones, former Astronaut and author of Sky Walking

Impeccably, painstakingly researched from start to finish. The level of access Rowland White has secured here is nothing short of breathtaking . Into the Black reads like the very best fiction - a real page-turner. I loved it.

Neil Oliver

Revealing and hugely entertaining . a roller-coaster ride of adventure and suspense. A truly remarkable book.

John Nichol, author of After the Dams and co-author of Tornado Down

A truly edge-of-your seat ride into space. In this superbly researched, painstakingly pieced together book, Rowland White has written a sensational account of the Space Shuttle story.

James Holland, bestselling author of Dam Busters and The War in the West

A superb book.

Stephen Coonts, author of Flight of the Intruder

An unforgettable book, one destined to become a classic . 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 . A work of transcending importance.

Dr Richard P. Hallion, former Chief Historian at Edwards Air Force Base

Based on years of painstaking research, recounted with superb flair and pace, this untold story is destined to become an aviation classic.

Alex Kershaw, best-selling author of Bedford Boys and The Few

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.

Homer Hickam, author of Rocket Boys/October Sky

A work of great importance . Highly readable and impossible to put down.

Dr David Baker, Editor of Spaceflight

A riveting account of the origins, development, and first flight of the Space Shuttle.

Roger D. Launius, former NASA Chief Historian

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 spacecraft herself. Buckle in and hold on tight-this thing's got rocket propulsion.

Gregg Hurwitz, New York Times bestselling author of Orphan X

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.

Piers Bizony, author of Starman, The Space Shuttle and The Making of Stanley Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey'

With Vulcan 607, Rowland White demonstrated his mastery of gripping aviation history. Now he ventures beyond the atmosphere, not only taking you inside the Space Shuttle Columbia on its challenging maiden flight, but also into the secret hallways of America's military space establishment, as he uncovers the heretofore untold relationship between NASA and the world of space reconnaissance. Into the Black is an impressive and unique achievement.

Michael Cassutt, co-author of Deke! and We Have Capture

I've been privileged to read this fizzer of a book. I grew up in the world of experimental test flying which spawned the first astronauts, some of whom actually I served with, and they popped out at me from almost every page of this book. An astonishing amount of research has gone into this splendid work. I found it totally absorbing.

Captain Eric Brown, former UK Chief Naval Test Pilot

A tour de force . blends hardcore science and history with colourful characters of the Tom Wolfe Right Stuff mould and a taut countdown to produce a genuine, real-life, edge-of-the-seat thriller . a masterpiece of journalistic investigation and a compelling piece of story-telling that reminds us that - when it comes to the decades-old space programme - there are still secrets waiting to be told.

Nick Cook, bestselling author of The Hunt for Zero Point

White's work is authoritative and reeks of authenticity, but it also rattles along at breakneck speed. Non-fiction is rarely written like this - Into the Black is infectiously page-turning and impossible to put down.

Jon Lake

With this superb book, Rowland White has given us not only the true account of an epic aerospace achievement, but in vivid prose he brings to life the human drama behind the Space Shuttle.

Robert Gandt, author of Intrepid and The Twilight Warriors

Into the Black is an extraordinary, carefully researched, tale of the evolution of America's space program . Anyone who has ever dreamed of being an astronaut will find themselves feeling they are indeed in the orbiter Columbia with Bob Crippen and John Young on that first flight.

Hugh Harris, former Director of Public Affairs at Kennedy Space Center

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