Rowland White



‘Beautifully researched and written, Into the Black tells the true, complete story of the Space Shuttle better than it’s ever been told before.’ 
Colonel Chris Hadfield, Astronaut, Space Station commander, author of You Are Here and An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth

‘The book moves nearly as quickly as the Space Shuttle itself.  As I rip through the pages I marvel at the bravery, resourcefulness and ingenuity of everyone concerned.  They really did have the right stuff.’ 
Daily Mail

‘A labour of love … White is the Robert Caro of the Space Shuttle … It’s proper drama and tension only slightly eased by the knowledge that this flight did in fact return safely … Columbia showed that if they put their heart and soul into it, humans could glide back from space and land on a runway.  When it worked it looked easy.  Into the Black shows it was really a white knuckle ride, every time.’ 
The Times

‘Meticulously researched … the astronauts are, not surprisingly, the principal heroes of White’s book, although there’s a lot of credit given to the visionaries on the ground who made the whole thing happen.  But it’s the stuff about flying that will grip most readers’ imaginations, and it’s here, particularly in the tense final section of the book, that White really comes into his own.’ 
Mail on Sunday

‘Into the Black told me stuff I never knew before – and I worked at NASA for 30 years!  The story pulls together many concurrent threads of space flight history, which ultimately led to the flight of the Space Shuttle, and that wonderful opportunity it presented me.  I found Into the Black to be a deep and enthralling read’
 Mike Foale, former astronaut and International Space Station Commander

‘This remarkable book describes the final – and unpublished – a chapter in the race to the moon!  Between 1961 and 1963, four groups of astronauts were selected by the USA — three groups were comprised of those pilots who were assigned to NASA and were highly publicized as men who explored the Moon.  The fourth group disappeared into the “black” world of the CIA, the NRO, and the top secret Air Force Manned Orbiting Laboratory programme.  Told for the first time, this is the exciting story of these exceptional pilots who only became known publicly during the development and first flights of the Space Shuttle – flights into the real black of Space.’
 David Scott, Commander of Apollo 15, Moonwalker

‘A drama of flight and raw human courage, with the lustre of myth. Into the Black is a brilliant concept, brilliantly executed. You’ll feel like you made the flight yourself. Strap in.’ 
Stephen Baxter, author of Voyage and Titan

‘Into the Black reveals fully for the first time the nail-biting suspense and extraordinary technical and human drama that lay behind the first flight of the hugely ambitious NASA Space Shuttle. Based on years of painstaking research, recounted with superb flair and pace, this untold story is destined to become an aviation classic.’  
Alex Kershaw, New York Times best-selling author of Bedford Boys, The Few and Escape from the Deep

‘Impeccably, painstakingly researched from start to finish.  The level of access Rowland White has secured here is nothing short of breathtaking.  The story is therefore woven through with revealing testimony straight from the mouths of the astonishing cast of characters behind the Space Shuttle – heroes all, but made real flesh and blood within these pages.  To hear so much of it in their own words means the whole thing feels incredibly personal and revealing.  Even more affecting is the way the storytelling reveals such boyish fascination with flight, so that Into the Black reads like the very best fiction – a real page-turner.  I loved it’
 Neil Oliver, Presenter of Coast

‘A work of great importance – knitting together separate strands of what has so far been a hidden story worth the telling but largely ignored. I am impressed by the thoroughness of scholarship and the crafting of an important piece of research into a highly readable narrative. Illuminates a complex piece of space history left in the shadows until now. Readable and impossible to put down.’
 Dr David Baker, Editor of Spaceflight

‘Rowland White’s account of Columbia’s inaugural flight in 1981, and all the preparations that led up to it, could not be a more timely reminder of what it takes to design, launch and fly a complex manned space vehicle. White’s research is thorough, his writing style is superb, and he has a gripping and fresh story to tell. This is a genuine ‘must-have’ book for anyone fascinated by the sharp end of space flight.’ 
Piers Bizony, author of Starman, The Space Shuttle and The Making of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’

‘Into the Black is a revealing and hugely entertaining insight into the early days of the Space Shuttle and the incredible men and women who ensured she flew. The intimate portraits of the men and the machine combine with a roller-coaster ride of adventure and suspense to provide a truly remarkable book.’
 John Nichol, author of After the Dams and co-author of Tornado Down 

‘I’ve been privileged to read this fizzer of a book.  I grew up in the world of experimental test flying which spawned the first astronauts, some of whom actually I served with, and they popped out at me from almost every page of this book.  An astonishing amount of research has gone into this splendid work.  I found it totally absorbing.’ 
Captain Eric Brown, former UK Chief Naval Test Pilot

‘A truly edge-of-your seat ride into space.  In this superbly researched, painstakingly pieced together book, Rowland White has written a sensational account of the Space Shuttle story.  With a cast of extraordinary characters, incredible science and the kind of cutting edge technology that almost defies comprehension, he recounts all the drama, jeopardy, intense beauty and astonishing adventure of what must be one of man’s most incredible achievements.’ 
James Holland, bestselling author of Dam Busters and The War in the West

‘Into The Black is a tour de force. Rowland White blends hardcore science and history with colourful characters of the Tom Wolfe Right Stuff mould and a taut countdown to produce a genuine, real-life, edge-of-the-seat thriller. What is even more extraordinary is that the events surrounding the book relate to a landmark piece of iconic engineering – the Space Shuttle – about which, years after its retirement, we feel we should know everything there is to know. The story that unfolds here, however, is both a masterpiece of journalistic investigation and a compelling piece of story-telling that reminds us that – when it comes to the decades-old space programme – there are still secrets waiting to be told.’
 Nick Cook, bestselling author of The Hunt for Zero Point and writer and presenter of Billion Dollar Secret

‘Rowland White has written an unforgettable book, one destined to become a classic in the emerging field of space history.  Moving effortlessly from planning meetings in obscure offices within NASA, the Pentagon, and industry to the unforgiving environment of high-risk flight test and flight into space, this book traces a remarkable journey and, along the way, introduces his readers to a courageous group of far-seeing engineers and astronauts whose bold vision and tenacious work gave humanity its first reusable space transportation system. A work of transcending importance, it will inform specialists and laypersons alike.’ 
Dr Richard P. Hallion, former US Air Force Historian and Chief Historian, Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards AFB

‘Brilliantly revealed, Into the Black is the finely tuned true story of the first flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia.  Rowland White has magnificently laid bare the unknown dangers and unseen hazards of that first mission.  He has also given us amazing insight into a world of science and engineering, the victories and defeats, for the first time.  It’s the perfect tale that educates as it entertains.  Once read, not forgotten.’
 Clive Cussler, No.1 bestselling author of Sahara and Havana Storm

‘An absolutely terrific look into the birth of the Space Shuttle! Rowland White’s Into the Black expertly captures, as never before, a history that spans decades, Cold War tensions, bureaucratic infighting and a multitude of seemingly impossible engineering challenges.  But it’s much more than merely the cold facts of how the nuts and bolts all came together.  It’s about the people…the men, women, astronauts, engineers, managers, and contractors who had the vision, faith in themselves and sheer guts to believe the impossible could be done; that a reusable, manned, winged craft could be built to routinely fly to and from earth orbit.   There are stories of courage and heart-accelerating fear in these pages that even I, as an astronaut, was unaware of.  If you have even a casual interest in the space program, read this book!’
 Mike Mullane, NASA Astronaut (Ret.), USAF Col., (Ret.) and Author of Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut

‘Into the Black isn’t just spectacularly researched, it’s told like a thriller, unfolding the edge-of-death tale of the Space Shuttle Columbia’s maiden voyage in riveting fashion. Rowland White performs a rare feat here, stitching together comprehensive research—countless interviews, declassified files, flight documents—into a tale of courage and daring as streamlined and elegant as the spacecraft herself. Buckle in and hold on tight—this thing’s got rocket propulsion.’ Gregg Hurwitz, New York Times bestselling author of Orphan X

‘Vivid and gripping, Into the Black rekindles the awe and wonder of spaceflight. Rowland White seamlessly blends science and technology with the story of human daring behind the first launch of the space shuttle Columbia. What a great ride.’
 Meg Gardiner, Edgar Award-winning author

‘Picking up Max Hastings’ latest book, I read in the blurb that his: “position as Britain’s leading military historian is now unassailable”. The Telegraph’s reviewer clearly hadn’t read any Rowland White. White has an innate understanding of and sympathy for aerospace and defence, and this has clearly opened many doors – allowing him to combine his painstaking and meticulous research with the recollections, anecdotes and war stories of all of the key participants in each of the adventures that he has decided to cover.  But as well as being exhaustively detailed and immersive, White’s gift for communicating and sharing his own clear-eyed enthusiasm allows him to take the reader and almost bodily plonk him or her straight into the cockpit, or at front centre of the action.  White’s work is authoritative and reeks of authenticity, but it also rattles along at breakneck speed.  Non-fiction is rarely written like this – Into the Black is infectiously page-turning and impossible to put down. It makes Wolfe’s The Right Stuff seem like a dry and dusty school textbook.’ 
Jon Lake, aviation writer and former Defence Journalist of the Year

‘Rowland White’s book, Into the Black, is an essential work for anyone raised during the era of the Space Shuttle. Understanding the true nature of many of the decisions which led to the creation of this amazing flying machine, as brought forth here for the first time, has opened the floodgates of my own memories. I have stood across the swamplands of the Kennedy Space Center feeling the Space Shuttle arc into the heavens with its pounding vibration, and been in the Mojave Desert hearing that distinctive double-sonic boom as the orbiter returned from space. Rowland’s writing is the next best thing to having been a direct part of that experience. Anyone interested in the history of exploration should make room on their shelf for Into the Black.’   
Michelle Evans, author of The X-15 Rocket Plane: Flying the First Wings into Space

‘With this superb book, Rowland White has given us not only the true account of an epic aerospace achievement, but in vivid prose he brings to life the human drama behind the Space Shuttle.’ 
Robert Gandt, author of Intrepid and The Twilight Warriors

‘Into the Black is an extraordinary, carefully researched, tale of the evolution of America’s space program. Rowland White has unearthed a treasure trove of formerly highly classified facts and combined them with an insightful look at the people who developed and flew America’s early human spacecraft and the first Space Shuttle flight. Anyone who has ever dreamed of being an astronaut will find themselves feeling they are indeed in the orbiter Columbia with Bob Crippen and John Young on that first flight. . They will also find a new appreciation for the foresight and skill of people in the military,  and civilian areas of government, and industry to insure the country’s leadership on the space frontier.’ 
Hugh Harris, Former Director of Public Affairs for NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and Voice of  Space Shuttle Launch Control for STS-1

‘In this gripping, real-life thriller, Rowland White introduces us to the engineers, test pilots, and astronauts who created the space shuttle and executed the “boldest test flight in history”—Columbia’s STS-1. Into the Black lives up to the legacy of the ship I flew and loved.’
 Tom Jones, astronaut, pilot, scientist, and author of Sky Walking: An Astronaut’s Memoir

‘Centuries from now the space shuttle program will be regarded as mankind’s first mighty leap into space, not in a rowboat, but in a truly useful spaceship.  Rowland White tells it as the great, magnificent adventure it was.  A superb book.’ 
Stephen Coonts, New York Times bestselling author of Flight of the Intruder

‘Beginning with Vulcan 607, Rowland White has demonstrated his mastery of gripping aviation history.  Now he ventures beyond the atmosphere, not only taking you inside the Space Shuttle Columbia on its challenging maiden flight, but also into the secret hallways of America’s military space establishment, as he uncovers the heretofore untold relationship between NASA and the world of space reconnaissance.  Into the Black is an impressive and unique achievement.’ 
Michael Cassutt, co-author of Deke!, We Have Capture, Heaven’s Shadow (with David S. Goyer), and Who’s Who in Space

‘Rowland White breaks new ground with the previously secret story of how America’s spies saved the space shuttle. But at the heart of this wonderful account of man’s love affair with space are the two men who dreamed of being astronauts and went on to make one of history’s greatest journeys.’
 Michael Smith, bestselling author of The Secrets of Station X and The Emperor’s Codes

‘A riveting account of the origins, development, and first flight of the Space Shuttle in 1981. There are more than a few new insights here as the connections between NASA, the Defense Department, and intelligence programs are interwoven in this story of STS-1 and the people who accomplished it.’ 
Roger D. Launius, former NASA Chief Historian

‘This account of America’s greatest and, in hindsight, most dangerous manned spaceflight is a fantastic read. After I started it, I read it straight through. For more than spaceflight geeks, this is the story of an astonishing adventure that, despite the outward confidence of NASA, could have and perhaps should have gone horribly wrong.’
 Homer Hickam, author of Rocket Boys/October Sky

‘Into the Black is gold dust for anyone with the slightest interest in the flawed magnificence of the Space Shuttle program, but it’s also a fascinating account of the decisions, opportunities, mistakes and triumphs that have shaped the history of crewed spaceflight through the Apollo era and beyond. Crammed with jaw-dropping revelations, it’s one of those rare books where you have to force yourself to stop reading, turn the light out and get some sleep.’
 Alastair Reynolds, author of Revelation Space and Slow Bullets

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