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NASA - From 'Rocket Boy' to NASA Engineer - Homer Hickam Shares His Memoir
April 18, 2007

How does a 54-year-old man get inside the brain of a 14-year-old boy? That was the challenge former NASA engineer and author Homer H. Hickam Jr. faced writing" Rocket Boys."

"It is really the story of a boy and where he grew up," said Hickam about the nonfiction memoir.

Image left: Book cover for "Rocket Boys" by Homer H. Hickam, Jr.

Hickam shared this and other details when he joined the Palmdale, Calif., City Library's "Rocket Boys" discussion group via telephone from his home in Alabama. Hickam's book was adopted by a number of book clubs and libraries in the Antelope Valley area of California for their "One Book, One Valley" literacy program because its story mirrored the childhoods of many locals who grew up watching the aerospace industry's finest flying overhead.

Hickam had two passions in life. The first was to work in the space industry. He did so as a NASA aerospace engineer where he trained astronaut crews for both Spacelab and space shuttle missions. When he retired from NASA in 1998 he was a Payload Training Manager for the International Space Station.

His second passion was writing and he has published a number of books, including "Rocket Boys" that became the critically acclaimed movie "October Sky." Asked about his favorite books as a child, Hickam responded, "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" and "Huckleberry Finn."

The location for the book review was appropriate. The gathering was held in the Aerospace Exploration Gallery, a small NASA museum operated by NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center and located within walking distance of the Palmdale library.

Hickam continues to keep a pulse on NASA's rocket development.

"Living in Huntsville, Ala., I am asked by the real rocket boys and girls to visit Marshall Space Flight Center to see what they are doing," quipped Hickam.

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