Dr. James Hansen

Dr. James R. Hansen is Professor of History and former Director of The Honors College at Auburn University in Alabama. An expert in aerospace history and the history of science and technology, Hansen 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. Dr. Hansen’s book, First Man (Simon & Schuster, 2005) was the first and only authorized biography of Neil Armstrong, first man on the Moon. The book spent three weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list and garnered major book awards, including the American Astronautical Society’s Eugene E. Emme Astronautical Literature Prize, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ Gardner-Lasser Aerospace History Literature Award, and CHOICE magazine’s Outstanding Academic Book of 2006. A two-volume Japanese translation of First Man has been published, with translations also into German, Chinese, Turkish, French, and Croatian. In November 2012, the book was re-released by Simon & Schuster as First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, The Essential Biography. This edition of the book included a new Preface written by Dr. Hansen following Mr. Armstrong’s death in August 2012. In 1995 the National Aeronautics and Space Administration nominated Dr. 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 History Book Award of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. 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. His other recent books, The Bird is on the Wing (Texas A&M University Press) and The Wind and Beyond (NASA) explore the role of aerodynamics in the progress of the airplane in America. The latter is a six-volume series prepared by Hansen and a team of his graduate students for NASA, volume two of which, Reinventing the Airplane, appeared in late 2007 (volume three is forthcoming in 2011). In 2005 The Wind and Beyond won the Society for the History of Technology’s inaugural Eugene Ferguson Prize for Outstanding Reference Work. His 2009 book, Truth, Lies, and O-Rings: Inside the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster, was published by the University Press of Florida and has been called by several reviewers “the definitive study” of the Challenger accident. The book also won the AAS’s Emme Prize and AIAA Gardner-Lasser Award, making Hansen the only two-time winner of both awards. Dr. Hansen’s newest book, Forever Young: A Life of Adventure in Air and Space, tells the story of legendary NASA astronaut John W. Young, Apollo 16 commander and first commander of the Space Shuttle. The book was published by the University Press of Florida in early 2012. Dr. Hansen’s scholarship has been connected to NASA for over thirty years, resulting in numerous NASA publications. Early in his career he served as Historian-in-Residence at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. He later served on a number of important advisory boards and panels, including the Research Advisory Board of the National Air and Space Museum, Editorial Advisory Board of the Smithsonian Institution Press, and Advisory Board for the Archives of Aerospace Exploration at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He is also a past vice-president of the Virginia Air and Space Museum in Hampton, Virginia. For the past five years he has served on the National Air and Space Museum Trophy Selection Board, which selects the NASM’s “Current Achievement” and “Lifetime Achievement” awards, the most prestigious awards in all of American aerospace. Dr. Hansen has also had a stellar career as an expert on golf course architecture and its history, publishing numerous articles and giving scholarly and public presentations on the subject in the United States, Canada, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and England. Three of his presentations were at the World Scientific Congress of Golf, which until recently met every four years at the University of St. Andrews. Hansen was also an active invited participant in the national summits between the golf industry and various U.S. environmental organizations that produced the landmark document, Environmental Principles for Golf Course in the United States (1996). At Auburn University he teaches an Honors College seminar on the history of golf course architecture. For the past 13 years he has been a golf course rater for Golfweek magazine’s listings of the Top 100 courses in the United States and around the world. He is currently writing the life story of America’s legendary golf course architect, Robert Trent Jones Sr. Entitled Driving the Green: Robert Trent Jones and the Making of Modern Golf, the book is to be published by Gotham Penguin in 2014. His experience as an academician and public speaker has been wide-ranging, routinely serving as keynote speaker, panelist, and lecturer on a wide variety of topics in the history of science and technology. He has given talks and other presentations at various universities, high schools, museums, government agencies, conferences, public libraries, historical associations, bookstores, book clubs, military bases, NASA laboratories, Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, and many other venues. His recent appearances include presentations given at the Paris Air & Space Museum, Le Bourget Airport, Paris France; Université du Maine in Le Mans, France; National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronauts (AIAA) national meeting, Denver, CO; and Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) annual meeting, Pittsburgh, PA. Hansen has been a special favorite of different clubs and organizations, such as the Prologue Society of South Florida, devoted to hearing writers and historians of local, national, and international stature. Dr. Hansen is very experienced and adept dealing with broadcast media, including the major television and cable networks and National Public Radio. He has done live or taped interviews for CBS’s The Morning Show, The NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, and by network affiliates in Montgomery, Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama, and Columbus, Georgia. He has also done interviews with Canadian, French, Dutch, Danish, German, Indian, Italian, Chilean, Turkish, and other national television and radio networks. Following the death of Neil Armstrong in August 2012, he was interviewed by newspapers, magazines, and television networks from more than two dozen countries from all around the world. A native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Dr. Hansen graduated summa cum laude and with High Honors from Indiana University. He earned his Ph.D. at The Ohio State University in 1981. Jim has taught history at Auburn University since 1986. Both his teaching and his scholarship have received numerous awards from the University including the Teaching Excellence Award in the Humanities, an Alumni Professorship, the Outstanding Teacher in the Core Curriculum, and the Office of the Vice President for Research’s Creative Research Award. In 2005, he was inducted into the College of Liberal Arts’ Academy of Teaching and Outstanding Scholars. Students who have earned graduate degrees under Hansen’s direction at Auburn currently hold positions at the University of Central Florida, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Air and Space Museum, U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Air Force Air War College, and with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. In 2010 Dr. Hansen was inducted as an Honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa. As head of the Honors College at Auburn University from 2006 through 2011, Dr. Hansen directed one of the most dramatic expansions of an Honors College in the history of American education. Prior to serving as Honors Director, Jim served for four years as chair of Auburn’s Department of History. He was, in fact, the first elected chair in the history of the University.

Broadcast 2097 (Special Edition)

Guest: Dr. James Hansen. Topics: Retired astronaut John Young, space history, returning to the Moon, astronaut safety & more. Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use.

Broadcast 2076 (Special Edition)

Guest: Dr. James Hansen. Topics: Neil Armstrong on the first anniversary of his passing. Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use.

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