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  Come Fly With Us (Croft, Youskauskas)

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Author Topic:   Come Fly With Us (Croft, Youskauskas)
MCroft04
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posted 11-27-2017 08:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
John Youskauskas and I are pleased to announce that the manuscript of our book “Come Fly With Us: NASA’s Payload Specialist Program, 1983-86", has been sent to the University of Nebraska Press. This will be the latest volume in the highly successful Outward Odyssey series, and astronaut Don Thomas has kindly written a wonderful forward.

This fascinating account documents the earliest discussions by NASA leadership to fly non-professional astronauts onboard the space shuttle, and features the personal accounts of many of the payload specialists who were selected for the missions.

We were fortunate to have the cooperation of many NASA astronauts and payload specialists including Rick Chappell, Michael Lampton, Rodolfo Neri-Vela, Bob Cenker, and Loren Acton. The U.S. Air Force Manned Spaceflight Engineer program is detailed with the recollections of Gary Payton, Bill Pailes, Eric Sundberg, Brett Watterson, and Frank Casserino.

We were also faced with quite a daunting challenge, given the number of missions on which payload specialists were flown. Hence, we made the decision early on to focus on the missions of the 1980's through STS-51L. This first era of space shuttle missions featured European scientists, guests from France and Saudi Arabia, two Congressional observers, commercial engineers, and the highly publicized, yet ultimately ill-fated Teacher in Space program.

The MSEs operated in near-total secrecy for years as they labored to integrate their highly classified payloads into the orbiter that would launch them. An ambitious plan to launch space shuttles into polar orbit from the west coast would face daunting technical challenges, yet was nearly ready to fly when the Challenger disaster occurred.

This project has been a labor of love for both of us. We’ve tried to document an exciting aspect of the shuttle program while focusing on those 22 payload specialists who were fortunate enough to earn a seat on these early flights. We hope you’ll find it as engaging as it was to write.

We anticipate a late 2018 release, with much work still ahead before publication. We will keep everyone up to date as we get closer.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 11-27-2017 09:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's great news Mel (and John)! Greatly looking forward to reading this when published...

ColinBurgess
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posted 11-27-2017 11:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Having been involved in this book since its inception I can state that this is an exceptionally well-written, wonderfully researched labour of love by two very talented collectSPACE enthusiasts, and many of the interviews are extremely interesting and revealing. The book is scheduled for a Fall 2018 release by UNP and I can assure everyone will be well worth the wait.

Henry Heatherbank
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posted 11-28-2017 04:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Henry Heatherbank     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I’ll buy, for sure.

MCroft04
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posted 12-19-2017 03:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Happy to hear today that the manuscript is entering the editorial phase.

The title has also been confirmed with a slight change in the subtitle. The new title is: Come Fly with Us: NASA’s Payload Specialist Program.

We removed the years 1983-86 as we do cover some of the post 1986 missions that carried payload specialists.

Credit goes to John for the title. He has a great story of how he came up with it.

cspg
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posted 02-07-2018 11:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Come Fly with Us: NASA's Payload Specialist Program
by Melvin Croft and John Youskauskas
Come Fly with Us is the story of an elite group of space travelers who flew as members of many space shuttle crews from pre-Challenger days to Columbia in 2003. Not part of the regular NASA astronaut corps, these professionals known as "payload specialists" came from a wide variety of backgrounds and were chosen for an equally wide variety of scientific, political, and national security reasons. Melvin Croft and John Youskauskas focus on this special fraternity of spacefarers and their individual reflections on living and working in space. Relatively unknown to the public and often flying only single missions, these payload specialists give the reader an unusual perspective on the experience of human spaceflight. The authors also bring to light NASA's struggle to integrate the wide-ranging personalities and professions of these men and women into the professional astronaut ranks.

While Come Fly with Us relates the experiences of the payload specialists up to and including the Challenger tragedy, the authors also detail the later high-profile flights of a select few, including Barbara Morgan, John Glenn (who returned to space at the age of seventy-seven), and Ilan Ramon of Israel aboard Columbia on its final, fatal flight, STS-107.

MCroft04
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posted 04-21-2018 04:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The cover has now been released. Of course there is a story behind the cover (as well as the title). UNP editing process has been very good, but still another round of editing to go.

dom
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posted 04-25-2018 01:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A beautiful and touching cover. This is one book I'm very much looking forward to reading...

Tallpaul
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posted 04-25-2018 02:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tallpaul     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by MCroft04:
The MSEs operated in near-total secrecy for years as they labored to integrate their highly classified payloads into the orbiter that would launch them.
Please pardon my ignorance but what does MSE mean? It is not defined anywhere in the text, or perhaps it is, and I just need new glasses. Is it Mission System Engineer, Mission Specialist Engineer, Mission Secret Engineer, or some other definition? Not all of us are versed in the jargon.

David C
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posted 04-25-2018 05:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's in the first post of this thread.
quote:
Originally posted by MCroft04:
The U.S. Air Force Manned Spaceflight Engineer program...

MCroft04
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posted 04-25-2018 06:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Don't sweat not knowing what an MSE is. I didn't either when we began this odyssey. But I can assure you that after reading John's wonderful chapters on the MSEs, you'll know plenty!

But does anyone know what a CHIT is?

Tallpaul
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posted 04-25-2018 06:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tallpaul     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Got it. Manned Spaceflight Engineer.

Convention is to put the initials of the phrase in parenthesis if it is to be referred to later. For example, Manned Spaceflight Engineer (MSE). At my age I'm easily confused.

328KF
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posted 04-25-2018 06:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A great example of what it's like to go through the editing process, which coincidentally was completed today!

MCroft04
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posted 04-29-2018 03:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by MCroft04:
But does anyone know what a CHIT is?
No takers on what a CHIT is, so I'll share. The CHIT was the "Crew's Honest Input to Training" during the training program for Spacelab 1. This was a multi-disciplinary mission (a wide variety of experiments) which required a lot of travel within the US and Europe.

The CHIT resulted in a lot of lessons learned which I originally included in the book, but once we realized we had to cut words, most of it was deleted.

The NASA astronauts had a tendency to loft missiles at the payload specialist program, and hence I often wondered if one of them came up with a word that began with an "S" to replace "Crew's" in the title. Guess I'll never know for sure, but if I were a betting man...

328KF
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posted 10-07-2018 12:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very pleased to now have the page proofs corrected and back to the publisher this past week. This was the first time Mel and I were able to see the completed manuscript as it will be printed with all of the photos and captions in place. It looks really great!

Also quite surprising to see how many small errors are still caught at this stage. I think we have a new appreciation for those who have published books in the past, only to have seemingly obvious errors pointed out by readers. It can be an exhaustive process.

So right now it looks like we're still on track for a February 2019 release, and the next time we see the project, we should be holding a completed hardback book in our hands!

As we get closer to publication, we'll have some exciting preview material to share with our fellow cS'ers!

dom
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posted 10-27-2018 02:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Any chance of this book appearing in time for Christmas?

MCroft04
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posted 10-27-2018 02:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Not according to UNP, but perhaps Colin could weigh in on whether any of the UNP Outward Odyssey books have been released early.

dom
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posted 10-27-2018 04:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I seem to remember 'Footprints in the Dust' appearing a few months before the official UNP release date?

ColinBurgess
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posted 10-27-2018 05:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, I can recall that most if not all Outward Odyssey titles became available well ahead of the published release date. That said, the page proofs and index have only just been returned to UNP and it is now up to their production team to see that the book is printed and bound, which makes me think that a release before Christmas is overly optimistic.

dom
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posted 10-28-2018 05:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the update Colin, it's on pre-order anyway!

MCroft04
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posted 10-28-2018 08:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I plan to be at Space Rendezvous with flyers to hand out. I'll be happy to answer questions. Maybe even about the 40,000 words we had to cut

328KF
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posted 11-26-2018 02:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Everyone can now follow us on Twitter! Mel and I will be posting updates on the book's release, some insights into how we researched and wrote the story, and maybe even some "cutting room floor" material that we couldn't fit into the final product.

Hopefully, with publication we will be able to share any book signings or talks we can get lined up.

Come fly with us!

MCroft04
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posted 12-18-2018 10:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
John is doing a great job of posting photos and stories on our twitter account. I encourage you to take a look and follow as he has some great ideas for the future.

328KF
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posted 12-26-2018 12:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One of the best gifts I got was a Christmas Eve delivery of a large box from a sender I didn't recognize. When I opened it, it was full of the first hardcover copies of our book! Quite a surprise from our publisher that was completely unexpected.

As other forum member writers have shared, it's a very exciting thing to actually hold the completed product in your hands after years of work and all the back and forth that goes into the editing process. The quality is definitely on par with the rest of the series.

These first copies are all spoken for...we've promised signed books for all of the participants who were gracious enough to grant us interviews and other assistance. Hopefully, we'll start seeing them hitting the shelves and Amazon ahead of the advertised date.

And poor Mel! He lives so far up there in Maine, his box has yet to arrive. The postal service is a bit slow in those parts. But it will be worth the wait!

lspooz
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posted 12-27-2018 06:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for lspooz   Click Here to Email lspooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What a great Christmas surprise - looking forward to this as well (copy on pre-order), and heard a little bit about this kind of feeling from a fellow cS'er and author when he first got such a shipment. I was just happy with the handful of space books I got from Santa (written by Scott Kelly, Mae Jemison and NdGT's Welcome to the Universe).

MCroft04
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posted 12-27-2018 08:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One of John's recent tweets refers to his writing the Department of Defense (DoD) chapters. John volunteered to write about these missions and I gladly took the Spacelab missions because I was convinced that none of the DoD astronauts would talk to John due to the secret classification of these missions. Well, not only did he interview both Gary Payton and Bill Pailes, he also talked to about a half dozen of the Manned Spaceflight Engineers (MSE)!

John recalled a comment from MSE Eric Sundberg; "There's a lot that we accomplished that is still classified, but once when you get to see it, you're going to be like...Wow!," with his eyes big and his hands waving around.

And no, I still don't have my books!

328KF
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posted 01-10-2019 01:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great news! Even though Come Fly With Us won't hit bookstores until February 1, you can order copies directly from UNP's website now!

MCroft04
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posted 01-24-2019 12:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We now have a University of Nebraska Press blog. Please take a look; you can enter your email address to receive new posts.

We sent complimentary copies to many of those that we interviewed for the book, and we've begun receiving comments from them and are very pleased with the feedback.

dom
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posted 01-26-2019 04:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I keep saying it, but I've been wanting to read this book for a long time. I have a feeling it's going to be full of new facts and revelations!

Only a few weeks to go before Amazon ships

328KF
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posted 01-26-2019 12:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Happy to let you all know that we have been confirmed for an appearance on The Space Show with Dr. David Livingston to discuss the payload specialist program history.

Tune in online Friday, March 29 at 12:30 Eastern!

If you can't listen in live, all of The Space Show programs are archived on the website.

328KF
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posted 01-30-2019 10:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Terry Virts does a fantastic presentation of View From Above with Nat Geo Live. He brought the show to Charlotte, NC last night and I spent some time with him afterward. We discussed how difficult it can be to put the experience of spaceflight into words, but he definitely had an advantage with the spectacular photos that were part of his talk!

I offered him an advance copy of our book, and he graciously offered to have a photo taken with one of the authors.

One observation he made looking at the cover was how unfair it was for the payload specialists to be seated in the middeck with no windows during launch and entry...

328KF
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posted 02-01-2019 09:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
After some three years of research, writing, editing, and waiting, today is the official release of Come Fly With Us: NASA's Payload Specialist Program!

We've had several people contact us saying they received Amazon orders yesterday, and we've also found that it is available on Apple Books as well.

While the average reader will certainly gain a new perspective on the formative years of space travel for non-professional astronauts, this community will likely appreciate the story more than most. We certainly hope it is revealing and entertaining, and welcome any comments, criticisms, likes, or dislikes from our readers here.

Also have a look at our Twitter page @CmFlyWithUsBook for continuing new payload specialist stories, book information and announcements to come!

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 02-01-2019 12:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
OK, how do we get author-signed copies?

328KF
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posted 02-01-2019 01:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hart,

If you PM me I'm sure we can do it TTM. Aside from that, Mel and I will have at least a table, and hopefully a book talk, at Spacefest in August.

We haven't considered bookplates like we did for Footprints in the Dust but we might look into that.

Thanks for following us on Twitter!

dom
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posted 02-10-2019 06:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Congratulations to Melvin and John! I got my copy a few days ago and have been dipping in and out of it over the weekend and really enjoying the read.

I have to confess I'm not reading it in sequence (each chapter is self contained, so it doesn't matter), as I wanted to go straight to the controversial flights of US Senators and the Teacher in Space tragedy. There's lots of new stuff I didn't know, which goes to show how good research always brings to life new facts!

A big thanks to Colin Burgess also. Without his influence at the UNP I don't think any other author would have been given the green light to write a book about such an obscure 'nerdy' topic as the Payload Specialist programme.

Anyway, back to the book...

MCroft04
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posted 02-10-2019 08:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the kind words Dom! When Colin first offered up this topic for a book I was initially a bit reluctant. But once I began looking closer I felt there was a story if we could just find it. And getting that story turned out to be quite different from what I imagined.

328KF
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posted 02-10-2019 06:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you Dom! The 51L story was difficult to write for a variety of reasons. There have been so many words written about it that we tried to take the approach of telling it from the perspective of some of the payload specialists we interviewed.

As I'm sure you've found, the story of how Greg Jarvis ended up on the ill-fated flight is covered in that chapter and the previous one about 61C.

328KF
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posted 02-17-2019 12:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Given the enormous amount of material we had to cover in the book, there was alot that either never made it into the story or had to be cut at some point. It is always a difficult thing to do when you spend time writing about something you feel is worthwhile, but the limitations on wordcount force you to drop it.

So rather than lose these stories, we've started posting some "cutting room floor" material on the Twitter page this week. Please check it out!

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