Passion for spaceflight propelled Bob
Mahoney through bachelor's and master's degree programs in aerospace
engineering at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Texas
at Austin, respectively. Love of writing carried him into lead
editorships of his high school's literary magazine and Notre Dame
Engineering's Technical Review.
Bob discovered an outlet for both of these passions while serving nearly
ten years as a spaceflight instructor in the Mission Operations
Directorate at Johnson Space Center. While working at JSC, he taught
astronauts, flight controllers, and fellow instructors in the
disciplines of orbital mechanics, computers, navigation, rendezvous, and
proximity operations. His duties included development of simulation
scripts for both crew-specific and mission control team training.
Bob supported many missions, including STS 35, the first flight of
Spacelab post-Challenger, and STS 71, the first shuttle
docking to Mir. As Lead Rendezvous Instructor for STS 63, the
first shuttle-Mir. rendezvous, and STS 80, the first dual
free-flyer deploy-and-retrieve, he ensured both crew and flight control
team preparedness in rendezvous and proximity operations.
The highlight of Bob's time at JSC was serving as Supporting, and then
Lead, Tether Dynamics Instructor for STS 46 and 75, respectively, the
first missions to operate deployable/retrievable space tethers. He found
developing and then executing the unique training flow for this entirely
new realm of space operations especially rewarding. In July 1996 Air
& Space/Smithsonian published his essay describing the
disappointment and wonder of watching the broken STS 75 tether fly
overhead in the early morning darkness on a Galveston beach.
His dedication earned him a Silver Snoopy Award, the NASA Public Service
Medal, the NASA Space Flight Awareness Award, numerous group achievement
awards, and the honor of sharing in the hanging of the STS 75 mission
plaque in Mission Control.
Bob is married and has four children. His interests include vertebrate
paleontology and the history of technology. He gave up his career
teaching astronauts to pursue something more challenging: stay-at-home
dad and full-time writer. Damned to Heaven is his first novel.
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