A history of major astronautical events from Sputnik and the moonwalk to Challenger and Discovery. For much of the world, ""Sputnik"" was the first familiar Russian word, while Yuri Gagarin, the first human to orbit Earth, was the first Russian hero. (The first earthling, and first heroine to die in space, was Laika, a fox terrier.) Then national pride and fear--plus intense scientific curiosity--propelled the great space race to ""one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."" Armstrong's and NASA's 1969 triumph was followed by other, anticlimactic moonwalks, with public interest muted as attention turned elsewhere. The Challenger raised questions: Was the program sound? Was it worth the cost? In the 80's, the program is being cautiously resumed with space shuttle Enterprise. The straightforward narrative here is by an experienced journalist and author, who includes a good selection of b&w photos. Somehow, despite his book's tendency to read like a list of names followed by "". . .and then they orbited,"" Nolan also conveys the excitement and challenge of the early days in space.