Through the Glass Ceiling to the Stars: The Story of the First American Woman to Command a Space Mission (Hardcover)

Through the Glass Ceiling to the Stars: The Story of the First American Woman to Command a Space Mission By Col. Eileen M. Collins, USAF (Retired), Jonathan H. Ward Cover Image
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The long-awaited memoir of a trailblazer and role model who is telling her story for the first time.
Eileen Collins was an aviation pioneer her entire career, from her crowning achievements as the first woman to command an American space mission as well as the first to pilot the space shuttle to her early years as one of the Air Force’s first female pilots. She was in the first class of women to earn pilot’s wings at Vance Air Force Base and was their first female instructor pilot. She was only the second woman admitted to the Air Force’s elite Test Pilot Program at Edwards Air Force Base. NASA had such confidence in her skills as a leader and pilot that she was entrusted to command the first shuttle mission after the Columbia disaster, returning the US to spaceflight after a two-year hiatus. Since retiring from the Air Force and NASA, she has served on numerous corporate boards and is an inspirational speaker about space exploration and leadership.
Eileen Collins is among the most recognized and admired women in the world, yet this is the first time she has told her story in a book. It is a story not only of achievement and overcoming obstacles but of profound personal transformation. The shy, quiet child of an alcoholic father and struggling single mother, who grew up in modest circumstances and was an unremarkable student, she had few prospects when she graduated from high school, but she changed her life to pursue her secret dream of becoming an astronaut. She shares her leadership and life lessons throughout the book with the aim of inspiring and passing on her legacy to a new generation.

About the Author

Eileen M. Collins, USAF (Retired), retired from the Air Force in 2005 and from NASA in 2006, having logged more than 6,751 hours in thirty different types of aircraft and spent 872 hours in space. She is the recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross and NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal and was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame, among many other honors. Since retiring, she has traveled the world as a motivational speaker. Col. Collins serves as an advisor to the National Space Council and is a board member of the Astronauts Memorial Foundation. She is married, with two children, and lives in San Antonio, Texas.

Jonathan H. Ward works to bring the thrill of the space program to life for the general public as a Solar System Ambassador for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and as a frequent speaker on space exploration topics to interest groups and at regional conferences. A fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, he is the coauthor with Michael D. Leinbach of Bringing Columbia Home and author of two previous books on space exploration. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Praise For…

"This is one of the essential astronaut autobiographies."National Space Society

“Given the chance, I would long ponder trading places with Eileen Collins. Her book with Jonathan Ward is a grand collection of simple, yet sensational moments she experienced—in Outer Space!—and in much that led to her getting there. What a read!"—Tom Hanks

“I wrote the song ‘Beyond the Sky’ and sang it at Cape Canaveral for Eileen Collins’s maiden command voyage: ‘Once there was a girl with a dream in her heart, wild as the wind was her hope.’ This woman with the dream has turned into a serious heroine of the centuries 
who has taken her place among other men and women in the startling adventure of circling the Earth and leaving it behind. You will love her book: it is exciting, personal, detailed, a good thriller, suspenseful as a Stephen King mystery, and full of hope—that rare quality we all search for. Yeehaw, Commander Collins! What a life you have led and what a tale you have told! Brava!”—Judy Collins, singer, songwriter, author

"Eileen Collins is a living legend and an inspiration to young people all over the world. We both began our journeys in Elmira, NY, with dreams of doing something extraordinary. Nurturing a dream is rarely ever easy, and Eileen certainly didn’t have a clear path to pursuing hers. Despite being met with challenges at every step, she was tenacious in chasing her ambition of becoming an astronaut—one who would go on to make history as the first female pilot and commander of an American space shuttle. When you come across a story of such determination, it is a reminder that once you set your mind to something, even the sky is not the limit.”—Tommy Hilfiger

“I hope that a young explorer who reads Eileen’s book will be inspired to become the first human on Mars. Eileen proves that there is no limit to what we can do if we stay true to our goals and keep moving forward.”—Buzz Aldrin

“Eileen is living proof to youngsters and young ladies that you can do anything you want to do with your life.”—Wally Funk, Mercury 13 pilot

“Eileen Collins and I trained for the shuttle together, flew jets together, and waited together for that first chance to rocket into space. In Through the Glass Ceiling, Eileen tells the inspiring story of how she rose through hard work and determination to become a rare exemplar of the ‘right stuff,’ leading her crews to success in orbit and commanding the first shuttle launch after the Columbia disaster. Read, be amazed, then get this book into the hands of young explorers.”—Thomas D. Jones, astronaut and author of Skywalking

“Reading Eileen’s story will not only help you get to know this extraordinary woman (mother, wife, survivor, USAF colonel, mathematician, professor, astronaut), but I bet it will help you think about facing life’s challenges with a greater sense of strength and determination. She is an inspiration.”—Gwynne Shotwell, president and COO, SpaceX
“This book is endlessly inspiring!Eileen Collins is a trailblazer not only of space but of life. Her story of overcoming adversity to achieve her dream of flying in space will make your spirit soar.”—Andrew Chaikin, author of A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts

In the dark days in the aftermath of the Columbia tragedy, we looked no further than Eileen Collins to lead us down the long road with the Return to Flight crew to help NASA and the nation believe in ourselves again and resume the human quest to explore. This new book, with the help of master storyteller Jonathan Ward, captures Eileen’s thoughtful reflections and compelling story, which serves to inspire us all to reach our greatest potential.” —Sean O’Keefe, NASA Administrator, 2001–2005

“As the commander of first space shuttle flight after the loss of Columbia, Eileen Collins lived, worked, and led her crew through a critical phase of history. How she got there is a story as interesting as the events themselves, one that is as inspirational as any in the pantheon of American aerospace heroes. This book takes you inside the life and times of one of NASA’s—America’s—best.”—Michael Griffin, NASA Administrator, 2005–2009

“Exciting, motivating, and inspirational are only a few words to describe this story of Eileen Collins and her incredible journey to space. Her tenacity, resilience and persistence come through with each chapter.”—Charlie Bolden, Major General, USMC, Retired, former astronaut, former NASA Administrator, 2009–2017

Eileen Collins has finally written the book people have been asking for. Growing up on welfare in a fractured family, Eileen's chance to live her own life took form in her long-held love of airplanes; her deep love of flying comes across on every page. Despite numerous obstacles in her path, she turned setbacks into advantages. We're with her in the pilot’s seat from page one. This inspiring book takes you into the challenges, the risks, the rewards—the heart of what it took to be first.”—Francis French, space historian; former Director of Events, Sally Ride Science

"Eileen Collins is an unsung American hero. Her memoir should be ‘must reading’ for all young girls and boys in school, and indeed for every aspiring student at all levels. She has been a pioneer in everything she tried. The fact that NASA named Eileen as pilot on her first space shuttle flight tells you everything about the trust and confidence she inspires. I have had the honor of working with Eileen in her post-astronaut activities on several boards as well as the White House’s National Space Council. That same trust and confidence, combined with just being a natural leader who cares for people, are evident everywhere.”—General Lester L. Lyles, United States Air Force, retired, former Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, and Chairman NASA Advisory Council
Product Details
ISBN: 9781950994052
ISBN-10: 1950994058
Publisher: Arcade
Publication Date: October 19th, 2021
Pages: 368
Language: English

How to read more
( Birmingham Museums Trust’s Digital Image Resource shares thousands of images that span decades of Birminghams vibrant past)

How To Read More

If you love reading, but for some reason you read less and less, know that everything is fine. It happens.
Our lives today have so many things that distract us - how can we not put books away when all these movies, TV shows, YouTube videos, social networks and endless surfing in online stores are around ...
Yes, it's really hard to resist, but you certainly can!

In this article, we want to share with you some tips to read more often and more successfully.
These are some notes and some practices that we have collected for our SUNDOG BOOKS readers club.
And maybe it will bring more books into your life!

Why do we want/need to read more?

To start reading more, you have to understand why you need it.
And you will be surprised, but your goals can be quite varied:

- for work
If you read a lot on duty, then you definitely need to speed up the process. The logic here is simple: read faster → work faster → more time for books for yourself.

- for education
you need this for your educational career or sometimes you just want to read to learn. And, with all the new alternative ways to gain knowledge (podcasts, online courses and videos), the book still does an excellent job of this task too.

- for self-development
all exercises for increasing speed, one way or another, improve cognition and memory.

- for fun
because good books always = fun!

Book lovers have an additional special goal for reading more often. If you love literature, you will understand what we mean: you want to catch everything - to follow modern literature, and not forget about the classics, look into non-fiction and children's publications. And there’s so much you want to reread! The goals are ambitious, but attainable if you read a lot.


And so - How to read more:
We will tell you about the methods that we use ourselves. Perhaps some will suit you as well.


15 minutes a day

You've probably already heard this rule: if you want to start a healthy habit, devote 15 minutes a day to it. Once upon a time, we all read irregularly, in jumps and starts. Sometimes we cannot open a book we have begun weeks ago. Therefore, you should decide to create a rule: devote at least 15 minutes a day to reading. Try reading before bed, or maybe during lunchtime, or even when you are having your morning coffee.

You will see progress immediately. You will notice that almost always your 15 minutes will grow into half an hour or more. But the most remarkable thing is that in three weeks your hands themselves will be looking for a book.


50 First Pages
This method advises - If the book hasn't hooked you from the first 50 pages, put it aside! Life is too short to read uninteresting books.

It is necessary to change the approach to books. At first it will be hard for you to stop and put the book down. Even if we put the book away, it will seem to reproach us from the shelf, mocking us as quitters. But in the end we should come to one simple thought: if it doesn’t hook your attention, you should not force yourself to read it.

***Fifty pages is not a bad test. Not the most objective, but definitely effective. It helps to determine whether it interests you or not, and whether to spend time on things that do not excite.


Reader's Diary

This should be used to improve the quality of reading - to make it more conscious. For starters, it can be a simple notebook with headings:

  • Author
  • Year of publication
  • Main characters
  • Scene
  • Plot
  • Theme
  • Quotes

And, yes, a reader's diary is not a thing about quantity, but about quality. But, it can also motivate. When you open your diary and start looking at quotes (especially quotes), you immediately really want to read.


Maybe a Book Bet?
Several people can participate. Members of the betting group can come from friends, family, and also your colleagues. And of course you can set your own rules for participation, but we'll give you a simple example:

Everyone in the group should read and review a book over the course of a month with weekly updates. Anyone who does not finish a review buys the book for all other participants for the next month.


Speed Reading

Another effective way to increase the amount you read is speed reading. The logic here is simple - the faster you read, the more books you can enjoy.

*There are many online courses on speed reading, and you can also study on your own using instructional books. But, it is worth noting that this is a serious learning process that will require some effort on your part.



Reading every day is quite attainable, the main thing is to try to make it a habit.
Sometimes, instead of heading for Facebook, try opening a book and soon you won’t even remember why you needed to wander around social media.
And also - don't forget about audiobooks. They are a cool way to take the load off your eyes sometimes and just immerse yourself in the story. Some books are really strong in voice acting.


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