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Bob Mahoney Photo Author
Bob Mahoney
 

Damned to Heaven

Passion for spaceflight propelled Bob Mahoney through bachelor's and master's degree programs in aerospace engineering at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Texas at Austin, respectively. Love of writing carried him into lead editorships of his high school's literary magazine and Notre Dame Engineering's Technical Review.

Bob discovered an outlet for both of these passions while serving nearly ten years as a spaceflight instructor in the Mission Operations Directorate at Johnson Space Center. While working at JSC, he taught astronauts, flight controllers, and fellow instructors in the disciplines of orbital mechanics, computers, navigation, rendezvous, and proximity operations. His duties included development of simulation scripts for both crew-specific and mission control team training.

Bob supported many missions, including STS 35, the first flight of Spacelab post-Challenger, and STS 71, the first shuttle docking to Mir. As Lead Rendezvous Instructor for STS 63, the first shuttle-Mir. rendezvous, and STS 80, the first dual free-flyer deploy-and-retrieve, he ensured both crew and flight control team preparedness in rendezvous and proximity operations.

The highlight of Bob's time at JSC was serving as Supporting, and then Lead, Tether Dynamics Instructor for STS 46 and 75, respectively, the first missions to operate deployable/retrievable space tethers. He found developing and then executing the unique training flow for this entirely new realm of space operations especially rewarding. In July 1996 Air & Space/Smithsonian published his essay describing the disappointment and wonder of watching the broken STS 75 tether fly overhead in the early morning darkness on a Galveston beach.

His dedication earned him a Silver Snoopy Award, the NASA Public Service Medal, the NASA Space Flight Awareness Award, numerous group achievement awards, and the honor of sharing in the hanging of the STS 75 mission plaque in Mission Control.

Bob is married and has four children. His interests include vertebrate paleontology and the history of technology. He gave up his career teaching astronauts to pursue something more challenging: stay-at-home dad and full-time writer. Damned to Heaven is his first novel.

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