Fallen Astronauts


Fallen Astronauts

Heroes Who Died Reaching for the Moon, Revised Edition

Colin Burgess and Kate Doolan with Bert Vis
Foreword by Eugene A. Cernan

Outward Odyssey: A People's History of Spaceflight Series

416 pages
50 photographs


May 2016


$36.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

May 2016


$36.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

May 2016


$36.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Near the end of the Apollo 15 mission, David Scott and fellow moonwalker James Irwin conducted a secret ceremony unsanctioned by NASA: they placed on the lunar soil a small tin figurine called The Fallen Astronaut, along with a plaque bearing a list of names. By telling the stories of those sixteen astronauts and cosmonauts who died in the quest to reach the moon between 1962 and 1972, this book enriches the saga of humankind’s greatest scientific undertaking, Project Apollo, and conveys the human cost of the space race.

Many people are aware of the first manned Apollo mission, in which Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee lost their lives in a fire during a ground test, but few know of the other five fallen astronauts whose stories this book tells as well, including Ted Freeman and C.C. Williams, who died in the crashes of their T-38 jets; the “Gemini Twins,” Charlie Bassett and Elliot See, killed when their jet slammed into the building where their Gemini capsule was undergoing final construction; and Ed Givens, whose fatal car crash has until now been obscured by rumors. Supported by extensive interviews and archival material, the extraordinary lives and accomplishments of these and other fallen astronauts—including eight Russian cosmonauts who lost their lives during training—unfold here in intimate and compelling detail. Their stories return us to a stirring time in the history of our nation and remind us of the cost of fulfilling our dreams. This revised edition includes expanded and revised biographies and additional photographs.

Author Bio

Colin Burgess is the author or editor of several books on spaceflight, including Footprints in the Dust: The Epic Voyages of Apollo, 1969–1975 (Nebraska, 2010) and Teacher in Space: Christa McAuliffe and the "Challenger" Legacy (Nebraska, 2000). Kate Doolan is a longtime space researcher and writer. Bert Vis is a Dutch space analyst who conducts research on the Soviet/CIS space program. Capt. Eugene A. Cernan lives and works in Texas and is the author of The Last Man on the Moon.


“Emotionally moving, factually detailed portraits. . . . Fallen Astronauts should be on every space enthusiast’s reading list.”—Rick W. Sturdevant, Air Power History

“A fascinating, often sad, but uplifting account. . . . Though there are many space explorers no longer with us, their achievements should not be forgotten. This book goes a long way to preserve the memory of sixteen of them.”—Dave Shayler, Spaceflight

“Well written and will be enjoyed by enthusiasts of the history of spaceflight.”—Choice

“This wonderful book, which brought back many fond and sometimes painful memories of a few who sadly never realized their dreams, is a long-overdue tribute to fallen comrades from a truly amazing era in American history.”—Walter M. Schirra Jr., Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronaut

“In this fine history, Burgess and Doolan have made an important contribution to the history of space flight.”—Scott Carpenter, Mercury astronaut

Fallen Astronauts is a long-overdue tribute to a group of men who paid the ultimate price for their tragically unfulfilled dreams of spaceflight.”—Michael Cassutt, author of Who’s Who in Space and coauthor of We Have Capture

“To open the way to the stars is the most important mission of mankind. All spacemen are heroes to me.”—Paul Van Hoeydonck, artist, sculptor, and creator of the The Fallen Astronayt statuette    

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
1. A Routine Training Flight
    Capt. Theodore Cordy Freeman, USAF
2. Gemini Twins 
    Elliot McKay See Jr.
    Capt. Charles Arthur Bassett II, USAF
3. Countdown to Disaster
    Lt. Col. Virgil Ivan Grissom, USAF
    Lt. Col. Edward Higgins White II, USAF
    Lt. Cdr. Roger Bruce Chaffee, USN
4. By the Light of a Soviet Moon
     Russia’s Cosmonauts
5. A Lonely Stretch of Road
     Maj. Edward Galen Givens Jr., USAF
6. “Mayday, Mayday!”
     Maj. Clifton Curtis Williams Jr., USMC

Also of Interest