Francis French


Francis French in May 2020

Francis French (born 1970) is a book and magazine author from Manchester, England, specialising in space flight history. He is a former director of events for Sally Ride Science, and was a director at the San Diego Air & Space Museum.

French's space history books have been reviewed by the Smithsonian's Air & Space Magazine, The San Diego Union-Tribune, Jeff Foust of The Space Review, Student Life newspaper, Popmatters, Quest: The History of Spaceflight, Blogcritics, Space Times, Oxford Journals, Air Power History, Technology and Culture, Journal of Cold War Studies, Michelle Evans of the National Space Society, readers of collectSPACE, and Hugo Award nominee Steven H Silver of Silver Reviews, hosted by SF Site.[1]

French's space history writing is noted for the amount of personal interviews with astronauts and cosmonauts, including Wally Schirra, Gordon Cooper, Scott Carpenter, and Pavel Popovich. In addition, French is a contributor to the magazine of the British Interplanetary Society, and is a Fellow of the society. In 2005, astronaut Wally Schirra personally inducted French into the astronaut branch of the Ancient Order of Turtles.[2]

French has made appearances as a space expert on the Discovery Channel, History Channel, Science Channel,[3] and The Space Show,[4] as well as the BBC World Service, NPR's "All Things Considered,"[5] ABC and other international broadcast shows.[6]

Both of French's 2007 books, Into That Silent Sea: Trailblazers of the Space Era, 1961–1965[7] and In the Shadow of the Moon: A Challenging Journey to Tranquility, 1965–1969[8] were named as finalists for the 2007 Eugene M. Emme Award given by the American Astronautical Society.[9] The latter was also named as 2009 Outstanding Academic Title by the American Library Association's Choice magazine.[10] In 2008, French received the AIAA "Outstanding Contribution to Aerospace Education" award, and the "Outstanding Community Support" award for San Diego from the National Space Society.[11] In 2011, French's co-authored book Falling To Earth with Al Worden made the top 12 of the Los Angeles Times Bestseller list.[12]

French has written many articles for magazines and online publications. One of his latest articles, Gay Astronauts: A Final Frontier,[13] relates the issues and struggles that LGBTQ people had and still have in regard to participating in the astronaut program. Many of his online articles can be found here.[14]

On 20 August 2010, French was inducted into the U.S. Space & Rocket Center's Space Camp Hall of Fame for his contributions to space history writing plus making science and technology accessible and understandable to family audiences.[15] French joined notable names in space history in the Hall of Fame such as rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun and NASA astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger.[16]

French is active in many community outreach programs such as Third Avenue Charitable Organization.[17]



  1. ^ Steven Silver review
  2. ^ Astronaut Wally Schirra's personal website with photograph of Ancient Order of Turtles induction of Francis French
  3. ^ Television appearance mention with links to video footage
  4. ^ Archived appearance on The Space Show Archived 3 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Archived interview on All Things Considered
  6. ^ ABC show archive
  7. ^ Into That Silent Sea official publisher site
  8. ^ In the Shadow of the Moon official publisher site
  9. ^ 2007 AAS Emme Award finalist announcements
  10. ^ In the Shadow of the Moon Official publisher site with notation of 2009 Outstanding Academic Title award by the American Library Association's "Choice" magazine
  11. ^ "AIAA Award Announcement". Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 23 September 2008.
  12. ^ LA Times Bestseller List
  13. ^ French, Francis (19 December 2020). "Gay Astronauts: A Final Frontier". Medium. Retrieved 8 July 2021.
  14. ^ "Magazine + Online Articles — Francis French". Francis French. Retrieved 8 July 2021.
  15. ^ SPACE CAMP Hall of Fame to induct four during annual banquet official site
  16. ^ Listing of all US Space & Rocket Center Hall of Fame inductees
  17. ^ "Social Services | Third Avenue Charitable Organization | San Diego". taco. Retrieved 8 July 2021.
  18. ^ "The Great Explorers official publisher site". Archived from the original on 24 September 2010. Retrieved 24 November 2010.
  19. ^ Falling to Earth official publisher site
  20. ^ Apollo Pilot official publisher site Archived 10 June 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ [1]Astronaut Al Travels to the Moon official site]
  22. ^ [2]The Light of Earth official publisher site]

External links

  • Francis French web site
  • Rare B&W video of Yuri Gagarin in Manchester digitally reconstructed in 2011 with a section of the original 16mm cine film kept safe by Francis French since 1987