Local author and “rocket scientist" Jack Clemons will present “Space Shuttle: First Flights”, an insider’s look at the untold stories behind the creation, design and early flights of NASA’s Space Shuttle, and of the remarkable people who made it all come together. The talk will take place Thursday, June 19, at 6:30 p.m., at Lewes Public Library.
On July 8, 2011, the Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off into the grey skies over Cape Canaveral, Fla. That launch, and the subsequent landing July 21, brought to an end the ambitious and largely successful Shuttle Program, and to a five decades-long era of NASA designed and operated manned launch vehicles, stretching back to Program Mercury in 1961. The NASA Space Shuttle Program operated for over 30 years, launching 135 missions between 1981 and 2011.
There’ve been many stories written about the triumphs and tragedies of Space Shuttle, but not much about why it was built, or why it looked the way it did. Or about the wizards behind the curtain - the people who made it all come together, some of whom remain largely unknown outside the specialized circles in which they worked.
From 1972 to 1984 in Houston, Texas, Clemons was part of the team responsible for designing and supporting the Space Shuttle’s onboard computer programs, the flight software that comprised the automated brain and nervous system of the shuttle in flight. His talk will include film clips, photographs, illustrations and anecdotes drawn from his experiences working with the NASA professionals and astronauts who were the ones who designed and were the first to fly the Space Shuttle.
Clemons has his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering. He was an engineer and team leader on NASA's Apollo and Space Shuttle Programs in Houston, and later led the team that designed air traffic control systems for the United States and the United Kingdom.
He is also a published author. His short stories and non-fiction articles have appeared in magazines, books and anthologies. He also appeared in the "Command Module" segment of "Moon Machines", the Discovery Science Channel's award-winning six-part documentary about the Apollo Program. He writes a bi-weekly space and science blog for Amazing Stories Online Magazine.