Libertyville author's book blasting into space next week
"Astronaut Annie," a children's book written by Libertyville author Suzanne Slade, is set to blast off into orbit next week.
The book, about a girl who creates her own spacesuit and wears it for her school's career day, was selected in the fall to be read on the International Space Station by the Story Time From Space organization.
A copy of the book autographed by Slade will be packed among the 490 cubic feet of supplies headed to the ISS onboard a SpaceX rocket called the Dragon, which is scheduled to take off at 3:22 a.m. Tuesday from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
"I've been waiting for it like it's Christmas Day," Slade said of the launch. "I know it's going to be great when it comes."
The resupply mission was first scheduled for April 26, but last week NASA announced that the launch would be delayed.
Once the book is aboard the ISS, an astronaut will be recorded reading it aloud. The video will be sent to Earth and be made available to schools by the Story Time From Space organization.
Slade says because astronauts are busy aboard the ISS, she doesn't know when they will have time to read her book or even which astronaut will do it. She said it's exciting that two of the three American astronauts aboard the station are women -- Anne C. McClain, who boarded in December, and Christina H. Koch, who boarded in March.
"I'm just thrilled that book will be going up there," Slade said. "That it will actually be in space and read by an astronaut where thousands of children can tune in and see them up there and hear the story, it's just thrilling to me."
Before the video is beamed to classrooms on a large scale, Slade has been sharing her story with students one classroom at a time. She said she has gotten a great reaction from children when she tells them the book will soon be in space.
"It helps them realize that space travel and exploration is a current and present thing," Slade said.
Slade asked organizers if she can get the copy of the book that will spend time in orbit to show during future presentations. She was informed that the organization will keep it for an exhibit on books involved in the project.
"I'm sure I wasn't the first to ask," Slade said with a laugh.
Since "Astronaut Annie" was selected to be sent into space, Slade has released two more space-themed books. "A Computer Called Katherine" tells the story of Katherine Johnson, the NASA mathematician who helped put a man on the moon and whose story was told in the recent Oscar-nominated film "Hidden Figures." Slade also wrote "Daring Dozen," which focuses on the accomplishments of the 12 astronauts who have walked on the surface of the moon.