“Finally, the accurate story has been written by one from Challenger’s Launch Control. Hugh Harris’ Challenger: An American Tragedy is a masterpiece.” —Jay Barbree, author of Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America’s Race to the Moon
“Harris offers a personal—and sometimes painful—look back at one of the darkest chapters in U.S. human spaceflight, as well as its impact on NASA over time.” —Space.com
“More than just a personal account of the disaster, Harris punctuates his book with conversations and interactions between himself and some of [NASA’s] key players, bringing the story to life. Throughout, Harris’ love for NASA and the shuttle program is obvious.” —Discovery.com
About the Author
Harris began his career as a member of the news media. He worked as a reporter and broadcaster for WMTR in Morristown, New Jersey, and as a reporter and photographer for two newspapers.
After his retirement in 1998, he shared his experience in NASA public relations with nuclear industry leaders at conferences held by the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency in Europe and Japan and in this country through the Nuclear Energy Institute.
He continues to work as a volunteer at the KSC Press Site, as well as for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.
Top Customer Reviews
Chapter one: A look back twenty-eight years (3)
Chapter two: A cold, cold night (5)
Chapter three: The launch (10)
Chapter four: After the launch (17)
Chapter five: Challenger and the White House (22)
Chapter six: Reporters, reporters everywhere (25)
Chapter seven: The Commission (27)
Chapter eight: Scoop! (29)
Chapter nine: Whose fault was it? (31)
Chapter ten: The search at sea (34)
Chapter eleven: Putting together the pieces (38)
Chapter twelve: Commission conclusions (41)
Chapter thirteen: The crew (44)
Chapter fourteen: The response (47)
Chapter fifteen: The return to flight (51)
Chapter sixteen: The challenge remains (54)
This is the true and "down-to-earth" story about the Challenger STS-33/51-L Shuttle disaster which happened on Tuesday, January 28, 1986, as seen through the eyes of Hugh Harris, the veteran NASA launch commenter who spent thirty-five years covering major technological events, often being referred to as "The Voice of NASA". At 11:38 a.m.Read more ›
It is a pretty slim volume; a fast reader will get through it in about 45 minutes. If you have read one of the other excellent accounts of the disaster by Cook, Vaughan or McDonald and Hansen this book is not going to tell you much that is new. Nor, if by some chance you happen to be totally unfamiliar with the Challenger disaster, will it give you much more than an overview of some of what happened.
Nonetheless, it has a certain easy charm. It is thoroughly readable and does deliver a few surprises and thought provoking insights. For those interested in the disaster, it would make a useful addition to their library; however for anybody who is looking for a thorough account of the events leading up to and following on from this catastrophe, there are better places to start.
=== The Good Stuff ===
* As expected, Harris writes very well. The narrative keeps moving, is easy to read, and rewards the reader with a high content of information per page. The author captures the whole Challenger story, from the biographies of the astronauts to the final results of the investigation.
* While I have read quite a bit of material on this mission, there were still a number of facts and anecdotes that I hadn't heard before. For example, Harris points out that Ron McNair, the Afro-American astronaut was once denied a library card as a child growing up in the South. Today, that very library is named after him.
* The narrative is complete, and doesn't sugarcoat or withhold any information, even that which is not exactly flattering to NASA or its contractors. The book is not especially technical, and is probably well within the understanding of anyone interested enough in the topic to consider reading the book. He avoids the usual NASA tecnobabble and acronym-madness.
=== The Not-So-Good Stuff ===
* The book is exactly as you would expect from a NASA PR type. There are no shocking revelations, and no new shocking revelations or smoking guns. That is most likely a result of the incident being reasonably well understood and investigated previously.
However Harris also avoids any higher order discussions. At its lowest level, the accident was caused by O-Rings operating outside their temperature constraints. This is where Harris stops.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not much new information it sounding like I was going to learn alot not so.Published 6 months ago by roger h phillips
Not a very in debt account but a unique one nonetheless. It is a very quick read with mostly quotes and transcripts bound together by his personal experiences.Published 13 months ago by dfleming
Very disappointed to find that the tragedy could have possibly be been avoided.Published 17 months ago by Margaret Hutchison
An excellent report written from the inside by a man of intelligence and integrity whom I'm proud to call a friend.Published 17 months ago by Charles W. Morley Jr.
This book is a quick read, hitting the high points of the disaster. I wished more the book had gone into more detail about the conditions leading to the tragedy and the... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Paul Herrera
Excellent description of the story from an unusual perspective.Published 18 months ago by Derek Buckley
It is indeed an American tragedy! And avoidable. A bit too technical for me, but probably necessary to describe the investigation and what went so badly wrong. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Beth Moffett
This book reminds us that exploration is a matter of risk, and how NASA bounced back from a horrific accident.Published 18 months ago by James R. Pass
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