Star Bound

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Star Bound

A Beginner's Guide to the American Space Program, from Goddard's Rockets to Goldilocks Planets and Everything in Between

Emily Carney and Bruce McCandless III

Outward Odyssey: A People's History of Spaceflight Series

280 pages
18 photographs

Hardcover

January 2025

978-1-4962-4139-9

$34.95 Pre-order

About the Book

Star Bound is a book for anyone who wants to learn about the American space program but isn’t sure where to start. First and foremost, it’s a history—short, sweet, and straightforward. From rocketry pioneer Robert Goddard’s primitive flight tests in 1926 through the creation of NASA, from our first steps on the moon to construction of the International Space Station and planning a trip to Mars, readers will meet the people and projects that have put the United States at the forefront of space exploration. Along the way, they’ll learn:

• How the United States beat the Soviets to the moon
• Why astronauts float in space (Hint: It’s not for lack of gravity!)
• How fast rockets have to go to stay in orbit around Earth
• How we can “look back in time” through a space telescope

With technology evolving and humanity’s understanding of the universe expanding, we are entering an exciting period of space exploration. Authored by two veteran space writers with unique insights into the topic, Star Bound offers up the story of Americans in space with a focus on the cultural and societal contexts of the country’s most important missions rather than engineering and technical minutiae. Vibrant, positive, and humorous, Star Bound is packed with facts and stories for novice space fans. And sprinkled in with the history are lists of the greatest space songs, books, movies, and more—all designed to make space exploration accessible to even the casual reader.

Author Bio

Emily Carney is a former nuclear technician for the U.S. Navy and an accomplished space journalist. She is the manager of public engagement and social media for the Space 3.0 Foundation, founder of the popular spaceflight group Space Hipsters, and cohost of the Space and Things podcast. Bruce McCandless III is a novelist, an attorney, and the son of a shuttle astronaut. He is the author of Wonders All Around: The Incredible True Story of Astronaut Bruce McCandless II and the First Untethered Flight in Space.
 
 

Praise

“Two of the world’s foremost space history chroniclers have joined forces to tell the tale of how spaceflight developed and nurtured our existence over the last century or more. They fly us through the decades with their characteristic wry humor, making Star Bound both an entertaining and an informative read.”—Francis French, coauthor of Into That Silent Sea: Trailblazers of the Space Era, 1961–1965

“A sweeping, comprehensive, and detailed spaceflight history and primer, Star Bound is not just informative, it’s engaging and fun—less an academic text than a lively conversation with that one cool friend who’s funny, snarky, and oh-so-smart.”—David Hitt, author of Homesteading Space: The Skylab Story

Table of Contents

1:  First Principles…………………….………………………….…………
How to find space—and why it’s so difficult to get there.
2.  The Wizard of Worcester………...………………………..….…………
America’s home-grown Daedalus was bald, bold, and dreamed of machines that could sail through space. He was widely mocked as a result. But it turns out he was right.
3.  Rocketry and Death……………...............................................................
Three brilliant individuals from very different backgrounds provided ideas about rocketry that Nazi Germany turned into a terrifying weapon—the V-2 missile, grandparent of all current space launch vehicles.
4. The SS Major and the Suicide Squad……………………………..…..
The end of the Second World War was just the start of another conflict, the Cold War—and the justification for an unusual experiment in situational ethics.
The All-Time Greatest Space Exploration Playlist
5.  A Starting Gun Called Sputnik…….………………..…………………..
The U.S. and the Soviet Union used space technology to fight a proxy war in the heavens. For years, it looked like the Soviets were winning. Then an American president issued a challenge. 
6.  The Man Who Fell to Earth…………….…….………………….……..
Created as a civilian agency, NASA inherited gifted people, amazing machines, and extravagant space plans from America’s armed services. But they didn’t come without a fight.
7.  Light This Candle! The Mercury Program…….………………………..
America’s first crewed space program launched six astronauts on solo spaceflights from May 1961 to May 1963. The missions lasted longer each time, with the latter four accomplishing a total of 34 Earth orbits.
11 Boffo Space Books to Launch at Your Brain
8.  Gemini’s Forgotten Flights…………………………….………………..
NASA sent up ten Gemini missions in the mid-sixties. Each flight carried two astronauts, who put their spaceships through progressively more complicated tasks meant to demonstrate the viability of a journey to the Moon. No one remembers anything about these events, leading some experts to question whether they really happened. 
9.  The Rise and Fall of the American Astronaut……….………………,…..
America’s astronaut corps has evolved from a cadre of cockpit cowboys to a more inclusive but still highly skilled group of fliers and scientists, doctors and engineers. But does anyone know their names?
The Best Space Stuff You Can Watch
10.  Apollo and the First Man on the Moon…………………….…….…..….
The Apollo program remains America’s iconic accomplishment in space—and quite possibly the most exciting thing human beings have ever done. This is both a blessing and a mild curse for NASA administrators, who have been trying to equal the achievement ever since.
11.  Skylab and the Renaissance of American Science……….……...…....
America’s first space station was scarred by launch and almost left to die. But Skylab, largely ignored at the time, survived to deliver a surprising win for science, sincerity, and general funkiness.
America’s Coolest Astronauts
12.  Send More Chuck Berry! Probes, Rovers, and the Golden Record……
Several unmanned American space probes of the seventies have proven remarkably valuable—and long-lived.
13.  The Butterfly and the Bullet…………….…………..………,.…..….…
America’s first reusable spacecraft was sophisticated, versatile, and beautiful. It promised the world, and broke a million hearts.
NASA’s Greatest Missions
14.  Sleeping with the Russians………………………………………..…….
An orbital space base rivalry between the U.S. and Russia eventually resulted in creation of the International Space Station.
15.  False Starts, Missteps, and the Promise of Artemis……………………..
For years, NASA has been trying to figure out where to go next. Artemis is the current answer.
America’s Biggest Space Failures
16.  The New Space Race…………………………………...……...…….…..
The dynamic and secretive Chinese space program is America’s chief cosmic rival.
17.  The Commercialization of Space…………………………………….…..
At long last, private industry is building increasingly capable and ingenious space vehicles. But not every company will survive.
The 11 Everyday Benefits of the American Space Program 
18.  Curse You, Gene Roddenberry!………………….………………….……
Science fiction makes interstellar travel look easy. But human beings aren’t going anywhere beyond Jupiter without some significant advancements in technology—especially propulsion technology. 
The 11 Best (and Worst) Rumors, Riddles, and Conspiracy Theories About the American Space Program
19. Looking Outward……………………….………………………….…….
Mathematics tells us that we almost certainly have company in the universe—maybe even LOTS of company. But if that’s the case, where is everybody?
11 Fearless Space Predictions 
20.  The Ultimate Question: Is It Worth It?.....................................................
Onward.
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