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  Wheels Stop: The Tragedies and Triumphs of the Space Shuttle Program 1986-2010 (Page 2)

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Author Topic:   Wheels Stop: The Tragedies and Triumphs of the Space Shuttle Program 1986-2010
Rick
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Posts: 291
From: Yadkinville, NC
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 05-07-2013 11:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick   Click Here to Email Rick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The very first interview I did for "Wheels Stop" actually took place a couple years before the book became a possibility. The song "God of Wonders" was played as astronaut Mike Fossum's wake-up call during the flight of STS-121, and I immediately pitched a story on him to one of the magazines for which I write. I added for the first and only time in my career, "I'll have to wait until he gets back to earth to set up the interview."

This is what Mike had to say in that post-STS-121 conversation about his reaction to receiving word that he'd been named to the crew:

It overwhelmed me. After so many years of dreaming, working and praying, I literally fell to my knees in the middle of a concrete floor covered in tools and stuff a guy with four kids is going to have stacked up his garage, and just said, “Thank you, Lord. I can’t believe it’s finally happening.”

Rick
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Posts: 291
From: Yadkinville, NC
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 05-21-2013 08:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick   Click Here to Email Rick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The spacewalk performed by STS-120 astronaut Scott Parazynski to repair a torn solar array on the ISS is often remembered as one of the riskiest of the entire Space Shuttle program. The memories of Doug Wheelock -- Parazynski's partner on that EVA -- are some of the most chilling in "Wheels Stop," both literally and figuratively.

Just after the airlock was sealed and repressurized, Wheelock was inducted into Army Aviation's Order of St. Michael by commander Pam Melroy. Here's what Wheelock had to say about the moment:

I was so exhausted, I just started weeping. I was like, “Why are you guys doing this to me?” It was just such a feeling of every kind of emotion you could ever imagine. It was like a vortex of emotion. Pam’s reading this citation to mission control and to NASA TV, and I’m just staring at Scott, who was on the opposite wall. He goes, “Are you OK?” I said, “I don’t think so.”

Rick
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Posts: 291
From: Yadkinville, NC
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 06-12-2013 05:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick   Click Here to Email Rick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I found Skype to be a very useful tool in doing a couple of overseas interviews for "Wheels Stop." One of those was with Jean-Francois Clervoy, a native of France who flew with the European Space Agency. Clervoy was called "Billy Bob" by fellow astronauts because of his decidedly non-Texan accent. Here's what he had to say about the Space Shuttle's landing:

When you see it landing as a glider, it’s just beautiful. It’s a piece of metal that comes back from space and touches the earth just as a kiss landing, and that is probably the strongest memory for me. It’s how space lands on Earth – as a kiss.

Rick
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Posts: 291
From: Yadkinville, NC
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 06-19-2013 09:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick   Click Here to Email Rick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The page proofs for "Wheels Stop" are ready, and I should have them in hand from UNP by the end of this week, early next. This. Is. Getting. Real!

garymilgrom
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Posts: 1676
From: Atlanta, GA, USA
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 06-19-2013 10:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Congratulations Rick. Lots of people looking forward to this one.

Greggy_D
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From: Michigan
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posted 06-19-2013 10:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Greggy_D   Click Here to Email Greggy_D     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm going to finish this book in one sitting. Sounds like a page turner! I'm very much looking forward to the release.

Rick
Member

Posts: 291
From: Yadkinville, NC
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 06-19-2013 10:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick   Click Here to Email Rick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks guys. This was by far the biggest project of my professional career and the closer the release gets, the more and more I feel like an expectant father!

Rick
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Posts: 291
From: Yadkinville, NC
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 07-02-2013 04:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick   Click Here to Email Rick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For the last three years, I have participated in a 5k to raise funds for the Victory Junction Gang Camp. Located in North Carolina, the camp hosts hundreds of chronically and terminally ill children free of charge.

VJGC was established by NASCAR's Kyle and Pattie Petty in memory of their son, Adam, who lost his life in a crash during practice at New Hampshire International Speedway in May 2000. I was at the track that day. My wife and I named one of our twin sons Adam in his honor.

Organizers this year are offering a pasta dinner at NASCAR legend Richard Petty's home to the top fundraisers, and my godmother is Petty's biggest fan -- hands down, without a doubt whatsoever. To help make sure she has a seat at the table, she has offered to purchase a copy of "Wheels Stop" for the first 25 people who donate $100 or more.

I would be more than happy to sign each one, if you so desire! A link to my fundraising page can be found here.

dom
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From:
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posted 09-26-2013 12:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Has anyone seen this book yet - I'm guessing it should be back from the printers very soon?

Rick
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Posts: 291
From: Yadkinville, NC
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 09-26-2013 01:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick   Click Here to Email Rick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm not sure when the presses roll, but with a release date of Dec. 1, it should be taking place any time now. I feel just like an expectant father, pacing the waiting room floor!

Robert Pearlman
Editor

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From: Houston, TX
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posted 09-26-2013 01:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have been reading an advance copy, and though I temporarily had to place it aside due to personal and work issues, what I have read thus far has been quite engaging. "Wheels Stop" brings the missions, and perhaps more importantly, the characters — astronauts, flight controllers — behind them, alive in a way that is both informative and illustrative.

dom
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From:
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posted 09-26-2013 02:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great. Like many here, I have this on pre-order and hope it gets to the bookseller's warehouse soon!

Rick
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Posts: 291
From: Yadkinville, NC
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 09-27-2013 12:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick   Click Here to Email Rick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dom ... you and me both, brother. You and me both!

Rick
Member

Posts: 291
From: Yadkinville, NC
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 10-11-2013 03:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick   Click Here to Email Rick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Got word this week that "Wheels Stop" is expected in the warehouse by October 24, less than two weeks from now!

Rick
Member

Posts: 291
From: Yadkinville, NC
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 10-28-2013 03:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick   Click Here to Email Rick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is a preview of the book available at Amazon.com! Enjoy your sneak peek!

WAWalsh
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Posts: 803
From: Cortlandt Manor, NY
Registered: May 2000

posted 10-29-2013 08:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for WAWalsh   Click Here to Email WAWalsh     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Looks great Rick. Cannot wait to purchase and read. Nice tip of the hat to this site.

Rick
Member

Posts: 291
From: Yadkinville, NC
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 10-29-2013 08:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick   Click Here to Email Rick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It would have been almost criminal to write "Wheels Stop" and not mention cS.

John Glenn's Shuttle flight rekindled the embers of my interest in human spaceflight, but it was Robert and collectSPACE that fanned it once again into a burning flame. It was here that I found out about the Apollo 12 reunion that was being held not far from my Phoenix hotel, and once I went to that, we've been Go for launch ever since.

So ... again ... thanks, Robert!

Rick
Member

Posts: 291
From: Yadkinville, NC
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 11-01-2013 01:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick   Click Here to Email Rick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's here! After a journey of close to five years, hard copies of "Wheels Stop" finally landed this morning. I heard the UPS truck and was out the door of my home before it ever came to a stop in the driveway! I'm just glad I had pants on.

dom
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From:
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posted 11-01-2013 03:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Congratulations Rick, it looks a beauty!

ColinBurgess
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From: Sydney, Australia
Registered: Sep 2003

posted 11-01-2013 04:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It is indeed 'a beauty,' with a magnificent narrative. Rick poured all his considerable talents into this book, and conducted some amazingly revealing interviews, to which I was privy during the writing process. It is a book to read and treasure about a remarkable program, that's for sure.

cspg
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Posts: 4419
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 11-01-2013 04:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Rick:
I'm just glad I had pants on.

Now I have to wonder: is writing hazardous to your (mental) health? Maybe you should meet Jay Gallentine since he had to read out loud his manuscript in his car...

Greggy_D
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From: Michigan
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posted 11-02-2013 08:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Greggy_D   Click Here to Email Greggy_D     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rick, the cover looks beautiful! I honestly cannot wait to receive my copy from Amazon.

rjurek349
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posted 11-02-2013 08:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for rjurek349   Click Here to Email rjurek349     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rick - congrats! Looks wonderful. Just put in my order. Looking forward to the read. Best, Rich

Rick
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Posts: 291
From: Yadkinville, NC
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 11-02-2013 04:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick   Click Here to Email Rick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by cspg:
Maybe you should meet Jay Gallentine since he had to read out loud his manuscript in his car...
That's NOTHING compared to my first book, a NASCAR-related work that was published in 2001. My wife is a district court judge, and we attended a conference of hers that summer.

I was expecting the color proof pages to the book that week, so I had the publisher ship them to the motel where the conference was being held. Our twin sons were newborn at the time, and when the front desk called to say that the package had arrived, I had not showered or shaved and the boys had saved that exact moment to... well... make really, really good use of their diapers.

Who cared? I didn't. Not with my first book's proof pages waiting. I ran a comb through my hair, threw the boys in their stroller and headed down to the front desk. No one was ever going to know. We got on the elevator, went to the first floor and then down a long hallway of conference rooms to get to the front desk.

It was at that exact moment that my wife's conference took a break, and out of the rooms came... every... single... judge... in... the... state... of... North... Carolina, me in my nappy shorts and T-shirt, unshaved and unbathed, and the boys with rather ripe diapers.

Oh, hey, honey...

Rick
Member

Posts: 291
From: Yadkinville, NC
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 11-05-2013 01:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick   Click Here to Email Rick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I will be doing a book signing for "Wheels Stop" at the Barnes & Noble in Winston-Salem, N.C. on Saturday, 14 December from 4-6 p.m. Hope to see some of my NC/cS brethren there!

jiffyq58
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Posts: 149
From: Durham, NC, USA
Registered: Jun 2011

posted 11-05-2013 09:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jiffyq58   Click Here to Email jiffyq58     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yeah, but when are you coming to Durham?

lspooz
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Posts: 111
From: Greensboro NC USA
Registered: Aug 2012

posted 11-05-2013 10:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for lspooz   Click Here to Email lspooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Rick:
I will be doing a book signing for "Wheels Stop" at the Barnes & Noble
Houston, we've had a problem (OK I couldn't resist...) - the B&N website doesn't have you listed when searching by author...

Rick
Member

Posts: 291
From: Yadkinville, NC
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 11-06-2013 05:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick   Click Here to Email Rick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by lspooz:
Houston, we've had a problem (OK I couldn't resist...)
You did NOT just go there!

The signing was just confirmed yesterday afternoon, so I'm sure the store's website has not been updated yet. Never fear, however, because failure is not an... oh, never mind.

Rick
Member

Posts: 291
From: Yadkinville, NC
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 11-07-2013 07:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick   Click Here to Email Rick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One of the very best things to come out of writing "Wheels Stop" has been the opportunity to become friends with Milt Heflin.

Milt was the lead Flight Director on several shuttle flights including STS-61, the critical first Hubble Space Telescope repair mission. In what will surely go down as one of the highlights of his career, Milt is also serving as co-author and cheerleader on our upcoming book for UNP on the historic third-floor MOCR.

Milt got his copy of "Wheels Stop" yesterday! Holy cow!

cspg
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From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 11-11-2013 05:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Amazon has shipped my copy today (or last night).

Rick
Member

Posts: 291
From: Yadkinville, NC
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 11-11-2013 05:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick   Click Here to Email Rick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You're not the only one. A friend of mine has had her copies from Amazon for about a week now!

jjknap
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Posts: 125
From: Bourbonnais, IL USA
Registered: Apr 2011

posted 11-11-2013 06:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jjknap   Click Here to Email jjknap     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My copy just shipped from Amazon!

lspooz
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Posts: 111
From: Greensboro NC USA
Registered: Aug 2012

posted 11-11-2013 12:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for lspooz   Click Here to Email lspooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As a happy accident of geography and luck, I purchased the first regular copy of this book directly from Rick, who was also kind enough to inscribe it to my son.

I cannot give it a five-star review on Amazon - that is to say, I cannot give what has been so obviously earned. Rick has produced an incredible work that brings to life the characters and events of the shuttle era I've only read about for decades.

Wheels Stop is presented with an over-arching structure that really illustrates the thoughts and demands (many conflicting) that shaped the progress of the shuttle program over three decads.

Of note is that many of the stories, interviews and quotes are presented together based on a common theme (usually centered around a particular mission OR astronaut). There are some rapid transitions that at first seemed confusing or abrupt but eventually really flow together well. This process calls to mind the idea of viewing a pointillism painting too close-up, slowly savoring and enjoying the many many components and eventually understanding the masterpiece.

Highly recommended, and quite a difference from the typical history text. Of course, the index and appendices are evidence of the detail and dedication to this great book.

Of course, the timing was perfect as I devoured the book en route to the 2013 ASF show (rookie review pending).

Now I need to get someone in Winston-Salem to buy a few more inscribed books...

Rick
Member

Posts: 291
From: Yadkinville, NC
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 11-11-2013 01:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick   Click Here to Email Rick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm really at a loss for words, Larry. Wow. Thank you so much for the kind words. They mean more than I could possibly ever say.

Rick
Member

Posts: 291
From: Yadkinville, NC
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 11-12-2013 12:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick   Click Here to Email Rick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wheels Stop has received another positive review, this one from Publishers Weekly.
Clearly a space buff and not a historian, [author Rick Houston] fills his account with astronaut biographies, interviews, and quotes; technical details; personal rivalries; and often stormy NASA politics. The Challenger and Columbia disasters receive their grim chapters along with another on the greatest achievement—launching and caring for the Hubble Space Telescope. Readers will find the section on American–Russian space flights absorbing, and will be mourning the end of the shuttle program by the final chapter.
The full review can be read at Publishers Weekly.

BMckay
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Posts: 1998
From: MA, USA
Registered: Sep 2002

posted 11-15-2013 05:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for BMckay   Click Here to Email BMckay     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I give it my thumbs up as well. I learned much from this book. It is a good read and well worth the time and money.

What made this also good was I had a chance to talk with Milt Heflin on Wednesday at MIT and he was great to talk to about the book and what he has planned. He fully enjoyed working with Rick and only had positive things to say. Based on my read and talking with people about it, I think Rick should write more!!

I am eagerly waiting for Milt's book in the future. I think it will be a must read as well as this one.

garymilgrom
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Posts: 1676
From: Atlanta, GA, USA
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 11-15-2013 07:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another 5 stars from me. This book is full of fantastic stories - it's not a technical book, or a gossip book, but an anecdote book. It opens with a very funny memory - a small child thinking early space travelers are talking to him - and goes uphill quickly from there.

I've read many books on the shuttle but this is the most accessible I've come across. The combination of Rick's writing style and the interviewees' honest stories make it easy to imagine being in their shoes.

This book also describes the EVA experience in great detail. Many astronauts talk at length about the difference between being in the cabin and being outside. This was an unexpected benefit.

One funny anecdote includes the very interesting concept of "an American cosmonaut". You'll have to buy and enjoy the book to find out who. Houston, we have no problems here. Thanks Rick.

lspooz
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Posts: 111
From: Greensboro NC USA
Registered: Aug 2012

posted 12-05-2013 12:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for lspooz   Click Here to Email lspooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rick Houston's signing is still on for Saturday afternoon Dec. 14.

If there is interest (or Rick isn't able to do so) let me know if anyone wants some copies signed or inscribed, and I'll see about whether I can make the signing - my schedule should be certain by this Saturday Dec. 7. — Larry

Rick
Member

Posts: 291
From: Yadkinville, NC
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 12-05-2013 01:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick   Click Here to Email Rick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You're a good, good man, Larry!

lspooz
Member

Posts: 111
From: Greensboro NC USA
Registered: Aug 2012

posted 12-07-2013 09:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for lspooz   Click Here to Email lspooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Looks like the mission is GO — I'll be going to Winston-Salem next Saturday for Rick Houston's signing, so if y'all need a personalized inscription just:
  1. email exactly what you want written and where [ie title page, inner cover, first flyleaf] and let me know by next Sat AM

  2. please send $40.93 via PayPal PER BOOK, just for the book [book price $36.95 + 6.75% sales tax= $39.44, +$1.38 for Paypal's cut] so I break even on the book

  3. after I get the book packed in a box I'll send it [via media mail in the continental US, probably about $4-5; other services at your request or if overseas] and ask you to send payment for the shipping charges so again I break even.
By the way, for the three folks who already emailed I'm happy to help fellow cS'ers — for the Denmark collector see if you can figure the shipping charges for more books — you might wind up doing well to share one box of 2-3-4 books if you have nearby interested folks...


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