Shattered Dreams


Shattered Dreams

The Lost and Canceled Space Missions

Colin Burgess
Foreword by Don Thomas

Outward Odyssey: A People's History of Spaceflight Series

288 pages
25 photographs, 4 tables, index


May 2019


$32.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

May 2019


$32.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

May 2019


$32.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Shattered Dreams delves into the personal stories and recollections of several men and women who were in line to fly a specific or future space mission but lost that opportunity due to personal reasons, mission cancellations, or even tragedies. While some of the subjects are familiar names in spaceflight history, the accounts of others are told here for the first time. Colin Burgess features spaceflight candidates from the United States, Russia, Indonesia, Australia, and Great Britain.

Shattered Dreams brings to new life such episodes and upheavals in spaceflight history as the saga of the three Apollo missions that were cancelled due to budgetary constraints and never flew; NASA astronaut Patricia Hilliard Robertson, who died of burn injuries after her airplane crashed before she had a chance to fly into space; and a female cosmonaut who might have become the first journalist to fly in space. Another NASA astronaut was preparing to fly an Apollo mission before he was diagnosed with a disqualifying illness. There is also the amazing story of the pilot who could have bailed out of his damaged aircraft but held off while heroically avoiding a populated area and later applied to NASA to fulfill his cherished dream of becoming an astronaut despite having lost both legs in the accident.

These are the incredibly human stories of competitive realists fired with an unquenchable passion. Their accounts reveal in their own words—and those of others close to them—how their shared ambition would go awry through personal accidents, illness, the Challenger disaster, death, or other circumstances.

Author Bio

Colin Burgess is the author of several books on spaceflight, including Faith 7: L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., and the Final Mercury MissionFootprints in the Dust: The Epic Voyages of Apollo, 1969–1975 (Nebraska, 2010); and Teacher in Space: Christa McAuliffe and the Challenger Legacy (Nebraska, 2000). Don Thomas was a NASA mission specialist on missions STS-65, STS-70, STS-83, and STS-94.


"We are used to celebrating heroes who have achieved great things. This book helps us to realize that we should also celebrate those unsung heroes who continue to strive toward great things even if they are not able to reach their initial goals."—James R. Zimbelman, Quest

“An overdue and moving account of the almost-astronauts, a group of extraordinary people who came tantalizingly close to leaving Earth and seeing our planet from orbit. An important contribution to the history of human space exploration.”—Robert Pearlman, space historian and editor of

“Have you ever read a book that is so wonderful you tell everyone he or she must read it? This is just such a book, one that is at times fascinating, revealing, and inspirational. I found myself becoming emotionally involved in the real-life stories and dramas of these truly amazing men and women. Definitely a book to read and treasure.”—Dee O’Hara, nurse to the first astronauts

“My father, Ted Freeman, a newly appointed astronaut, died in an accident only one year into living his dream of flying to the moon. Colin Burgess told my father’s story in his wonderful book, Fallen Astronauts, and this latest, similarly magnificent book explores the lives and achievements of other individuals who also lost that rare chance of venturing into the mysteries and wonders of space. Another great book by an outstanding author.”—Faith (Freeman) Johnson, daughter of Capt. Theodore Cordy Freeman, USAF, NASA astronaut

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Prologue: End of a Spaceflight Dream
1. Losing the Moon: Apollo, the Abandoned Missions
2. Earthbound Astronaut: Scientist-Astronaut Duane “Doc” Graveline
3. Born beneath the Southern Cross: NASA’s Group 6 Astronaut Philip K. Chapman
4. Svetlana’s Story: Russia’s Journalist-in-Space Program and Cosmonaut-Journalist Svetlana Omelchenko
5. Unfulfilled Ambitions: Lt. Cdr. Stephen D. Thorne, USN
6. The Greatest Gesture: Oceanographer Robert E. Stevenson
7. Test Pilot and Ex-Astronaut: Group 5 Astronaut Lt. Cdr. John S. Bull, USN
8. An Indonesian Flag in Space: Payload Specialist Pratiwi Sudarmono
9. Countdown to Skynet: Britain’s First Astronaut Candidates
10. Patience, Persistence, and Guts: The Extraordinary Story of Frank K. Ellis
11. Vostok Lady: Pilot and Parachutist Marina Popovich
12. With Stars in Her Eyes: Group 19 Mission Specialist Patricia Hilliard Robertson
13. New Hampshire to the New Frontier: Payload Specialist Candidate Robert J. Wood
14. Argentina’s Only Astronaut: Fernando (Frank) Caldeiro
Epilogue: A Personal Reflection

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