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"Leaving Orbit" By Margaret Lazarus Dean on Monday's Access Utah

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Graywolf Press
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In the 1960s, humans took their first steps away from Earth, and for a time our possibilities in space seemed endless. But in a time of austerity and in the wake of high-profile disasters like Challenger, that dream seems to have ended. In early 2011, Margaret Lazarus Dean traveled to Cape Canaveral for NASA's last three space shuttle launches in order to bear witness to the end of an era.

In her new book "Leaving Orbit: Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight" Dean serves as our guide to Florida's Space Coast and to the history of NASA., taking the measure of what American spaceflight has achieved while reckoning with its earlier witnesses, such as Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe, and Oriana Fallaci. Along the way, Dean meets NASA workers, astronauts, and space fans, gathering answers to the question: What does it mean that a spacefaring nation won't be going to space anymore? 

Margaret Lazarus Dean is winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize for "Leaving Orbit." Her previous books include "The Time It Takes to Fall." She is a recipient of fellowships from the NEA and the Tennessee Arts Commission and is an associate professor of English at the University of Tennessee. She lives in Knoxville.