Dr James Hansen, author of First Man, speaks at the museum.

The museum was honored to host Dr. James Hansen, Author of the book, First Man, the only authorized biography of Neil Armstrong. Over 35 guests attended this event sponsored by the AIAA.

This event was the first in a series of events hosted by the Niagara Aerospace Museum leading up to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing.

James Hansen book cover





















Dr. James Hansen’s biography (more info here):

An expert in aerospace history and the history of science and technology, Dr. Hansen, Professor of History at Auburn University, has written numerous books and articles covering a wide variety of topics, including the early days of aviation, the history of aerospace engineering, NASA, the Moon landings, the Space Shuttle program, and China’s role in space. He has special expertise on the history of the American astronaut corps, having authored the life stories of Neil Armstrong and John Young and directed a doctoral dissertation (now a published book) on the first class of women astronauts in the U.S. space program.

His book, First Man (2005) is the only authorized biography of Neil Armstrong. It became a New York Times Bestseller and garnered major book awards to include the AIAA’s Gardner-Lasser Aerospace History Literature Award, American Astronautical Society’s Eugene E. Emme Astronautical Literature Prize, and CHOICE magazine’s Outstanding Academic Book of 2006. First Man has been translated into Japanese, Chinese, Turkish, Croatian, and Romanian. In 2012 Simon & Schuster reissued the book as First Man: The Essential Biography, with a new preface by Hansen following Armstrong’s death in August 2012. Also that year Hansen
published Forever Young: A Life of Adventure in Air and Space (2012), the story of astronaut John W. Young, Apollo 16 commander and first commander of the Space Shuttle.

In 1995 NASA nominated Hansen’s book Spaceflight Revolution for a Pulitzer Prize, the only time NASA has ever made such a nomination. His book From the Ground Up (1988) won the AIAA’s History Book Award. His scholarship has also been honored with the Robert H. Goddard Award from the National Space Club and certificates of distinction from the Air Force Historical Foundation. Two of his books, both published in 2003 – The Bird is on the Wing and The Wind and Beyond – explore the role of aerodynamics in the progress of the airplane in America. The latter is the first in a six-volume series edited by Hansen (Volume 2, 2007; Volume 3, forthcoming 2015). For the 2009 book, Truth, Lies, and O-Rings: Inside the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster, Hansen served as co-author for the prizewinning memoir of former Thiokol Shuttle engineer Allan J. McDonald.

Hansen’s scholarship has been connected to NASA for four decades. Early in his career he served as Historian for NASA Langley Research Center, authoring Engineer in Charge (1987), a history of Langley from 1917 to 1958. He has served on a number of advisory panels, including the Research Advisory Board of the National Air and Space Museum. He is also a past vice-president of the Virginia Air and Space Museum. For the past eight years he has served on NASM’s Trophy Selection Board, which annually presents the most prestigious awards in all of American aerospace.

Hansen graduated with High Honors from Indiana University in 1974. He earned his Ph.D. at Ohio State University in 1981. His teaching, at Auburn since 1986, has also earned numerous accolades. Students who have earned graduate degrees under his direction currently hold positions at the University of Central Florida, NASA, National Air and Space Museum, Air Force Academy, Air Force Air War College, and American Society of Mechanical Engineers.