This review was first published by Booklist on May 3, 2019.
Heroes of the Space Age offers profiles of eight individuals who played significant roles in the early days of the Space Age, from the late 1950s to the mid-1970s, including the first men and women in space (Yuri Gagarin, John Glenn, and Valentina Tereshkova), the first men on the moon (Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin), and the first man to occupy a space station (Pete Conrad). Significantly, Pyle (Interplanetary Robots, 2019) includes people in pivotal roles on the ground: Gene Krantz, NASA flight controller during the first moon landing, and Margaret Hamilton, who designed the computer software for the Apollo missions. The author notes he sought to include diversity in these profiles, though the space race at that time was largely homogeneous. Each biography is brief but complete, though of greatest interest are the accounts of the work these individuals did as part of the space program. This is not a comprehensive collection of the hundreds of individuals involved but it’s a solid history of the earliest days of our exploration of space.