Spacewalker: My Journey in Space and Faith as NASA’s Record-Setting Frequent Flyer

Title: Spacewalker: My Journey in Space and Faith as NASA’s Record-Setting Frequent Flyer
Authors: Jerry L. Ross with John Norberg
Pages: 300pp with 41 color images
Publisher: Purdue University Press
ISBN: 978-1-55753-631-0
Price: Hardback, $29.95

From the age of ten, looking up at the stars, Jerry Ross knew that he wanted to journey into space. This autobiography tells the story of how he came not only to achieve that goal, but to become the most-launched astronaut in history, as well as a NASA veteran whose career spanned the entire US Space Shuttle program. From his childhood in rural Indiana, through education at Purdue University, and a career in the US Air Force, Ross charted a path to NASA after overcoming many setbacks—from failing to qualify for Air Force pilot training because of “bad” eyesight, to an initial failure to be selected into the astronaut program.

The majority of the book is an insider’s account of the US Space Shuttle program, including the unforgettable experience of launch, the delights of weightless living, and the challenges of constructing the International Space Station. Ross is a uniquely qualified narrator. During seven spaceflights, he spent 1,393 hours in space, including 58 hours and 18 minutes on nine space walks. Life on the ground is also described, including the devastating experiences of the Challenger and Columbia disasters.

For readers who have followed the space program from Mercury through the International Space Station and wonder what comes next, this book provides fascination; for young people interested in space exploration and reaching for their dreams, whatever they might be, this book provides inspiration. Full of stories of spaceflight that few humans have ever experienced, told with humor and honesty, Spacewalker presents a unique perspective on the hard work, determination, and faith necessary to travel beyond this world.

Key Points:

  • An insider’s account of the US Space Shuttle program, from before its first launch through the final landing, and the building of the International Space Station.
  • A firsthand account of life in space from the first human to fly seven missions.
  • An inspirational story of a personal journey from rural Indiana to outer space, powered by a deep Christian faith.

John Norberg, who helped Jerry with the book, is a writer based in West Lafayette, Indiana. John Norberg is an experienced journalist and the author of five books, including Wings of Their Dreams (2003) about the role of aviation’s pioneers and trailblazers in the history of flight and space. Find out more about him at

Hardback available through booksellers or direct from publisher’s website:

A companion book for children, Becoming a Spacewalker, is published September 2014. For more information see

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Becoming a Spacewalker: My Journey to the Stars

Title: Becoming a Spacewalker: My Journey to the Stars
Authors: Jerry L. Ross with Susan G. Gunderson
Pages: 40pp with 65 color images
Publisher: Purdue University Press
ISBN: 978-1-55753-693-8
Price: Hardback, $16.95

This nonfiction picture book is a children’s version of NASA astronaut Jerry L. Ross’s autobiography, Spacewalker: My Journey in Space and Faith as NASA’s Record-Setting Frequent Flyer, designed for ages 7–12. Told in friendly first-person narration, it represents how Ross followed his dream from rural 1950s northern Indiana to Purdue University and then outer space.

The thirty-two-page book is illustrated with personal photos and memorabilia. It is formatted into twenty-three narratives organized in chronological order illustrating events and experiences in Ross’s life. Pages attractively interweave photos and text while prompts encourage readers to engage in in the story.

Ross possessed specific character traits that helped him make choices and overcome obstacles as he struggled against the odds to realize his dream: curiosity, persistence, and believing in oneself. As the story unfolds and readers begin to make personal connections with Ross, his approach to problem solving and working through setbacks provides a powerful example for children.

Content area concepts are integrated throughout the story, including but not limited to science, technology, engineering, math, visual literacy, financial literacy, geography, flight, and the race to space. Gravity, for example, is a major theme illustrated within the content of the story. Online guides for teachers using the book in a classroom setting (third to fourth grade recommended) are linked to throughout.A map of the United States on the inside front cover invites children to follow the path of Ross’s journey from Crown Point, Indiana, to Kennedy Space Center. A timeline on the inside back cover compares and contrasts benchmark events in Ross’s life and career with important events in flight and space travel history. Further electronic materials are available at

Key Points:

  • Engages children in an immersive reading experience with manageable texts and many color photographs and design features.
  • Provides valuable life lessons on the importance of having a plan, working through problems, and overcoming setbacks.
  • Accompanied by educator-designed materials that link scientific concepts introduced in the book to national core standards and provide guidance on additional activities.

Susan G. Gunderson, who helped Jerry with the book, has been on the College of Education faculty at Purdue University in West Lafayette for nine years. She teaches literacy education courses to both undergraduate and graduate students. Gunderson holds two graduate degrees from Purdue—an MS and EdS in literacy and language education. In addition, Gunderson is a certified Reading Recovery Teacher Leader.

Hardback available through booksellers or direct from publisher’s website: