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The New Guys

The New Guys

The Historic Class of Astronauts That Broke Barriers and Changed the Face of Space Travel

by Meredith Bagby


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The never-before-told story of NASA’s barrier-breaking Astronaut Class of 1978, which for the first time ever, included women, Blacks, and people of color—with exclusive cooperation of five astronauts. They rode NASA’s cutting-edge shuttle, through its triumphs and tragedies (Challenger, Columbia), never losing sight of their conviction—space is for everyone.

In 1978, NASA changed the rules and hired its first class of civilian astronauts for its new Space Shuttle program. For the first time ever, the astronaut ranks were open to candidates beyond white male fighter pilots. In that historic class were the first American woman, the first African American, the first Jewish person, the first Asian, the first gay person, and the first mother.

The New Guys, the nickname their military predecessors gave them, tells their stories, for the first time ever, with exclusive access to three of the first American women in space, Kathy Sullivan, Anna Fisher, and Rhea Seddon, as well as the first African Americans, Guy Bluford and Fred Gregory.

Running in parallel to their story is the extraordinary four-decade-long history of the Shuttle itself. Conceived in the 1960s, the Space Shuttle was an ambitious new vehicle that would launch like a rocket, haul like a truck, and land like a plane. It would be NASA’s most ambitious technical achievement. The New Guys pioneered the Shuttle program, which defined a generation of space travel, and helped build a dream of a new American century in space that brings all of the human race along.

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