May 1, 2017

James R. Hansen to helm new aeronautics and astronautics book series with Purdue University Press

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A new book series from Purdue University Press will explore cutting-edge topics in aeronautics and astronautics enterprises, tell unique stories from the history of flight and space travel and contemplate the future of human space exploration and colonization.

The series, “Purdue Studies in Aeronautics and Astronautics,” will be edited by James R. Hansen, author of “First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong” (Simon & Schuster, 2005, 2012). Hansen, the authorized biographer of Neil A. Armstrong, in 2008 donated 55 hours of one-on-one tape-recorded interviews with the famed astronaut to the Purdue University Libraries’ Division of Archives and Special Collections. “First Man” spent three weeks on The New York Times best-seller list. A new edition of “First Man,” from Simon & Schuster, is planned to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing.

"I am thrilled to edit such an innovative series for the Purdue University Press," Hansen said. "These titles will build on past titles from Purdue and showcase Purdue's deep connection with space travel and innovation."

The first title to be released in the series is “Piercing the Horizon: The Story of Visionary NASA Chief Tom Paine,” by Sunny Tsiao.

The book delivers new insights into the behind-the-scenes drama of the space race. Tsiao examines how Paine’s days as a World War II submariner fighting in the Pacific shaped his vision for the future of humankind in space. The book tells of how Paine honed his skills as a pioneering materials engineer at the fabled postwar General Electric Co. in the 1950s, to his dealings inside the halls of NASA and with U.S. presidents Johnson, Nixon and later, the Reagan and Bush administrations.

As robotic missions begin leaving Earth, Tsiao invites the reader to take another look at the plans that Paine articulated regarding how America could have had humans on Mars by the year 2000 as the first step to the exploration of deep space. “Piercing the Horizon” provides provocative context to current conversations on the case for reaching Mars, settling our solar system and continuing the exploration of space.

"This series on aeronautics and astronautics that span from science and engineering to policies and the human spirit will inspire the next generation of pioneers, explorers, and champions to dream and achieve the impossible. I cannot think of a better person to lead this exciting series than Jim Hansen," said Tom Shih, head of the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue.

The series builds on Purdue University Press’s recent successful titles, such as “Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom,” by George Leopold (Purdue, 2016), and “Spacewalker: My Journey in Space and Faith as NASA’s Record-Setting Frequent Flyer,” by Jerry Ross with John Norberg (Purdue, 2013).

 "An international research center and aeronautics and astronautics program like ours, with such a rich tradition and such active ongoing research, deserves a fine publishing program. It will not only celebrate our institutional and national heritage, but also our human heritage and, indeed, bring important new thinking to new audiences,” said Peter Froehlich, director of Purdue University Press. "Our team is excited to be working with Jim Hansen on this new series for Purdue." 

Writer: Megan Huckaby, 765-496-1325,

Sources: Peter Froehlich, 765-494-8251,

Tom I-P. Shih,

James Hansen,

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

© 2015-24 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Office of Strategic Communications

Trouble with this page? Disability-related accessibility issue? Please contact News Service at