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Before Lift-off

'Before Lift-off' cover image

Before Lift-off

The Making of a Space Shuttle Crew

Winner of the Eugene Emme Astronautical Literature Prize from the American Astronautical Society

For eight days in October 1984, seven men and women orbitied the Earth on Space Shuttle Mission 41-G. The mission has begun a year earlier; however, with the select of its crew. Before Lift-off is the extraordinary day-to-day story of these astronauts' training and flight-and is as close as most of us will ever come to flying on the space shuttle.

New Yorker writer Henry Cooper obtained unprecedented permission from NASA to follow the 41-G crew from its formation through the completion of its mission. He was even given access to the heart of the training program: the crew's sessions in the shuttle mision simulators.

More than a chronical of different phases in the astronauts' learning process, Before Lift-off tells the story of the bonding of these men and women. It would be Captain Robert Crippen's fourth space flight, his second command in six months, and Sally Ride's second shuttle voyage. For rookies Davida Leestra, Jon McBride, and Kathy Sullivan, and for two payload specialists, the experience would mark an initiation into the most elite groups-those people who have ventured into space.