cover image Forever Young: A Life of Adventure in Air and Space

Forever Young: A Life of Adventure in Air and Space

John W. Young with James R. Hansen, foreword by Michael Collins. Univ. Press of Florida, $29.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-8130-4209-1

Engineer, astronaut, and moonwalker, Young looks back over his participation in the space program, from the days of testing fighter jets in the 1950s to the last space shuttle mission. He chronicles his first experience with leaking O-ring seals as (the flaw that destroyed the space shuttle Challenger) a test pilot]setting the stage for his continued obsession with flight safety and his guilt at not personally checking every aspect of the design for the Challenger. Between these two events lay the heady early days of the astronaut program, Gemini missions, loops around the moon, and finally, landing there as leader of the Apollo 16 mission. Staying with NASA, in 1974Young became chief of the NASA Astronaut office in Houston, involved in every aspect of the shuttles, and flew the first one. Packed with minute technical detail that space enthusiasts will devour, Young's story also reveals personal side of the program. His pain at the loss of his pal, Gus Grissom, in a 1967 equipment test, is still raw, as is the loss of the shuttle crews. There are also tales of pranks, mishaps, and corned beef in space. At 82, Young hasn't lost his enthusiasm for space exploration, one that he communicates on every page. 43 b&w ophotos. (Sept.)