Safely to Earth:
The Men and Women Who Brought the Astronauts Home
University Press of Florida, 2018, 280 pp., Hardcover, $24.95. www.ufp.com
In this one-of-a-kind memoir, Jack Clemons — a former lead engineer in support of NASA — takes readers behind the scenes and into the inner workings of the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs during their most exciting years. Discover the people, the events, and the risks involved in one of the most important parts of space missions: bringing the astronauts back home to Earth. Through personal stories, Clemons introduces readers to many of the unsung heroes of the Apollo and Space Shuttle missions — the people who worked side by side with NASA engineers supporting reentry and landing for each Apollo mission and the software team who fashioned the computer programs that accompanied the crews on the Space Shuttle. Clemons worked closely with astronauts who relied on him and his fellow engineers for directions to their destination, guidance on how to get there, control of their fate during their journeys, and a safe return. He reveals problems, challenges, and near-disasters previously unknown to the public and offers candid opinions on the preventable failures that led to the loss of fourteen astronauts in the Challenger and Columbia tragedies. Highlighting the staggering responsibility and the incredible technological challenges that Clemons and his colleagues took on in the race to reach the moon and explore the mysteries of space, this book is a fascinating insider’s view of some of the greatest adventures of the twentieth century.