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

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

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

Book Description

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.


Digital versions available: Enhanced versions of this book are available as e-books through the Apple iBookstore, Kobo bookstore, and Nook bookstore. They contain almost 30 videos and over 50 still images, most with commentary by Jerry L. Ross.

An iPad App is also available in the Apple App and iTunes Store.

Non-enhanced versions are available for e-readers that don't support imbedded video including the Amazon Kindle. Plain e-Pub and e-PDF versions can be purchased directly through our website. These are essentially facsimiles of the print book optimized for electronic delivery.

Book Reviews

Neil Armstrong, Commander of Apollo 11

“As an astronaut for over three decades, one who participated in some of the most challenging and exciting Shuttle missions, Jerry Ross knows spaceflight. In Spacewalker, he details the exultation of actually being in space and brings to life the realities of preparing for and executing one of the most difficult of all human endeavors. Spacewalker is the book for anyone who ever dreamed of flying in space.”


Eugene Cernan, NASA Gemini and Apollo astronaut

“I have known Jerry Ross for many years, as an astronaut, a friend, and as a fellow alumnus of Purdue University. We’ve had many opportunities to share our experiences and our dreams for space exploration. We share a passion for inspiring young people. This is the story of one man’s lifelong quest to explore the unknown, overcome setbacks and obstacles, and keep the beacon of space shining in the hearts of all people, young and old. This book is about an American Dream.”


Gene Kranz, NASA Flight Director for Gemini and Apollo

“Seven times in space, a first and a record matched by only one other. As Flight Director I sweated out the gut-wrenching final seconds on launch day many times. In the seconds before launch I said a prayer for my team, and then at the instant the rocket was freed of its earthly shackles I briefly prayed for our crew. Most astronauts of my day would fly but two or three missions, but Jerry Ross faced the fire and the risks of launch day repeatedly. This book is the story of a common man from the Midwest who became an American hero . . . a model for the youth of our nation and for those who will accept the challenge to follow in his footsteps.”

Homer Hickam, author of Rocket Boys/October Sky and Crater

“As a NASA training manager, I knew Jerry Ross as one of the steadiest and smartest astronauts in the agency. He was also one of the nicest! No matter who you were or what your job was, Jerry always took the time to express his appreciation for the work you were doing. Frankly, considering the pressures we were always under, I wondered what made Jerry so nice. Now that I've read his memoir, I know! Jerry Ross is the genuine article, a man of humble roots who decided to be the best he could be while never forgetting the lessons of honesty, integrity, and family he learned along the way. Great memoirs have to strike a balance between history, circumstance, purpose, and passion. By this or any standard, Spacewalker is a great memoir. Jerry tells his story straight from the heart, and it is a magnificent tale of courage and faith. If you liked Rocket Boys/October Sky, you're going to love this book!"


Eileen Collins, first woman pilot and command US space missions

“This book is a must-read! Astronaut Jerry Ross has seen our Space Shuttle program from start to finish, and more. No other person has experienced the depth and breadth of the Space Shuttle intrigue as Jerry has. You will be inspired by the story of a young man chasing his dream . . . and achieving it many times over. You will be taken inside the private side of astronauts’ lives, as they train and fly their intense and risky missions. You will learn and remember the greatness of America’s Space Shuttle program. This story has all of it: the humor, the tragedy, the family view, the technical side, as well as Jerry’s personal perspective of our country’s great Space Shuttle program. There is no other book like this; it is a gem!”


About the Author(s):

Jerry L. Ross is an Indiana native, a graduate of Purdue University, a retired United States Air Force officer, and a former astronaut who retired from NASA in 2012. Colonel Ross is a veteran of seven US Space Shuttle missions and holds an individual world record for the most spaceflights flown. More information is available at


John Norberg is a writer, author, humorist, and a chronicler of the human condition. Retired as director of communications for development at Purdue University, he began his humor column in 1971 while working at Indiana’s Brazil Daily Times. The column appeared in the Lafayette Journal and Courier from March 1973 to October 2014. He has received more than 50 state and national reporting awards. A nationally respected, award-winning speechwriter and public speaker, he also is the author of seven books, including Spacewalker: My Journey in Space and Faith as NASA's Record-Setting Frequent Flyer, which details the story of astronaut Jerry Ross. Additionally, Norberg has written articles for various national publications, including the Saturday Evening Post, USA Today, the Christian Science Monitor, and Time magazine. He was most recently honored with the prestigious Purdue University Special Boilermaker Award and was inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame for a lifetime of work.