Publication Date: 06/05/2021 ISBN: 9781786331854 Category:

Test Gods

Nicholas Schmidle

Publisher: Cornerstone
Publication Date: 06/05/2021 ISBN: 9781786331854 Category:




Meet the astronauts leading the way to a new world of space travel.

‘Masterly’ New York Times
‘Riveting’ Scott Kelly
‘Remarkable’ The Times

When Richard Branson founded Virgin Galactic in 2004, his goal was simple: to offer paying customers a trip to space by the end of the decade. Seventeen years, countless delays, and one catastrophic crash later, his space tourism dream may finally be on the verge of becoming a reality.

New Yorker journalist Nicholas Schmidle knows that story intimately. He spent nearly four years embedded with Virgin Galactic at its California hangar, meeting the individuals working to make commercial space travel possible.

Now, Schmidle offers the definitive account of life inside the new space race. Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews with Virgin’s lead test pilot, Mark Stucky, Test Gods describes the making of a modern astronaut. Schmidle recounts Stucky’s life – from starry-eyed youth to NASA, the Air Force, and Virgin Galactic; and through dozens of gruelling test flights to his first successful trip beyond the earth’s atmosphere.

Along the way, we meet the colourful cast of engineers, executives and mechanics battling to take Virgin to space. There’s Branson, who emerges as an excitable if overoptimistic evangelist for commercial space travel. There’s Mike Moses, Virgin Galactic’s grounded, unflappable president. And there’s Mike Alsbury, the pilot whose momentary miscalculation sends his aircraft crashing into the Mojave Desert – making him one of the first casualties of the new space race.

The result is a compelling examination of the inner lives of a new generation of astronauts. Theirs is a world where the line between lunacy and genius is blurred, and where no sacrifice is too great in pursuit of the dream of space travel.

‘Adventure in its purest form – rich with risk, courage and friendships.’ Bear Grylls

‘A hurtling narrative . . . A fitting twenty-first-century sequel to The Right Stuff.’ Patrick Radden Keefe, author of Say Nothing and Empire of Pain

‘So exciting. A new generation with The Right Stuff.’ Dan Snow

Publisher Review

Adventure in its purest form - rich with risk, courage and friendships. -- BEAR GRYLLS If you want to know what being a test pilot truly looks and feels and even smells like, read this riveting book. Schmidle has done something remarkable, capturing all the visceral grit we experience inside the cockpit, in addition to all the tragedies and triumphs that we encounter along the way. This is the book about the new space race you've been waiting to read. An instant classic. -- SCOTT KELLY, astronaut and author of Endurance Test Gods is an absolute thrill, a hurtling narrative, based on six years of reporting and unprecedented, intimate access, about the test pilots of the Virgin Galactic space program. It's a hugely ambitious feat of reporting and storytelling, and a fitting twenty-first century sequel to The Right Stuff. Schmidle captures not just the technical wizardry of the spaceships and the envelope-pushing prowess of the pilots, but also the very real costs, for the pilots and their families, of reaching for something beyond this world. -- PATRICK RADDEN KEEFE, author of Say Nothing It's hard to know where to begin: Test Gods is unique, fascinating, compulsively readable, brilliantly reported with unprecedented access, a kick-ass adventure story of the last of the great swashbucklers addicted to speed and altitude. It is a journey unlike any I have ever read, as pulsating as it is poignant and personal. What makes a man routinely risk his life for a living umpteen miles above the clouds? What does he leave behind on earth? Cosmic questions that Schmidle answers with elegance and beauty and pace. Just strap yourself in and get ready for one helluva ride. -- BUZZ BISSINGER, author of Friday Night Lights So exciting. A new generation with The Right Stuff. -- DAN SNOW

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