15 Years

Why the book? Why now?

The short answers are, the story needs to be told, and, someone with discipline and writing ability is helping.

Jonathan and I met at Norm Carlson’s memorial service on March 14, 2015. A month later, we decided to collaborate to tell the untold piece of Columbia’s final mission.

Many of you knew Norm. He was my mentor, hiring me into the NASA Test Director’s office after Challenger. He was also my very close friend, and friend to so many at KSC and beyond. He earned all the accolades received at the services. From being the Launch Vehicle Test Conductor for the Apollo missions, his launch team leadership in the early days of Shuttle, to his unabashed pride in NASA and love for throwing parties, Norm was special. A commemorative coin given out at the services said it best, “Norm Carlson a True KSC Legend.” He would have loved the tribute. And Bobbie, his wife “forever”, would have, too. (A room in the Launch Control Center is named for Bobbie, a tribute to a truly fine lady.)

Jonathan and I kicked around the book idea and both concluded it NEEDED to be told, and the story needed to be written before more years robbed us of memories, or worse. The passage of time made research for Jonathan’s two KSC-based Apollo books particularly difficult. Fortunately, all that research was done with Norm’s awesome help. Unfortunately, Norm missed the books’ actual releases.

With Jonathan’s help, the story of Columbia and her final crew’s recovery, reconstruction, and use for the betterment of spacecraft design will be told.

I only wish Norm could read it.

mike-and-jonathan
Mike and Jonathan, five minutes after we decided to write the book together.

Author: Mike Leinbach

Mike was the final Space Shuttle Launch Director at NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center. He led the launch team for all Shuttle missions from August 2000 to the end of the program in 2011, giving the final "go" for every launch.

2 thoughts on “15 Years”

    1. Thanks, Cathy. Jonathan and I just hope to tell the people’s story using their own memories and words. It’s an interesting journey for me, reliving both the bad and good days following the loss of our friends and spaceship. It got a welcome boost yesterday when I took a tour group through “Forever Remembered” in the Atlantis building at the KSC Visitor’s Center. Explaining to them that this was the first time ever that NASA has displayed debris from our Shuttle failures, and how the recovery and reconstruction of Columbia occurred, they suggested I write a book about it. Well, you can imagine my response!!!!

      As an aside, I started putting on ‘behind the scenes’ tours a few months ago as part of the VC’s initiative to educate along with entertaining their guests. Each one I do reminds me how much the public still appreciates the Shuttle program and what America and our international partners accomplished with them.

      Liked by 1 person

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