Houston: Space City USA by Ray Viator; Texas A&M University Press, College Station, Texas, 2019; hardcover:  224 pp. 222 color, 6 b&w photos, $37.00.

Given the development of new spaceports around the world, this volume celebrates Houston, Texas as “mission control” for America’s on-going spaceflight program.

Recall those words from Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong on July 20, 1969: “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

This visually stunning work by Viator, a Houston author and photographer, captures the spirit of Houston’s ties to America’s space program. Beyond the splendid visuals, the book is loaded with gems of knowledge, such as why Houston was the selected site for the $200 million “manned spaceflight laboratory.”

There are a number of refreshing surprises throughout this volume, including an appendix that honors and remembers the human cost in pioneering the space frontier.

Author Ray Viator
Photo by Cynthia Viator

“The book also celebrates the impact of the space program on our city and region,” Viator writes. “The space program raised Houston’s visibility both nationally and around the world.” As the author notes, about 20 percent of the nearly one million annual visitors to Space Center Houston come from other nations.

“This book is also a celebration of the whimsical and humorous, the fancy and the fantastical that surrounds us every day, if we just take the time to look,” Viator adds.

The reader will find a unique blend of imagery and text within the book’s pages, anchoring Houston as mission control over the past decades to today…and the future.

All proceeds from sales of “Houston: Space City USA” benefit Houston Public Media’s programming and news coverage of space, science and technology.

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