James R. Hansen is the author of First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, the first and only authorized biography of one of America's most celebrated heroes. With unprecedented access to private documents, interviews with more than 125 subjects, including more than 50 hours of interviews with Armstrong himself and 12 hours with his first wife Janet, as well as unpublished sources, Hansen produced the first in-depth analysis of this elusive American celebrity.
Hansen has written about aerospace history and the history of technology for the past 23 years. He has published books and articles on a wide variety of topics ranging from the early days of aviation, the first nuclear fusion reactors, the Moon landings, to the environmental history of golf courses.
In 1995, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration nominated his book Spaceflight Revolution for a Pulitzer Prize, the only time NASA has ever made such a nomination. His book From the Ground Up won the History Book Award of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. His other books, The Bird is on the Wing and The Wind and Beyond, explore the role of aerodynamics in the progress of the airplane in America. The latter is the first in a six volume series prepared by Hansen and a team of his graduate students for NASA.
Hansen is Professor of History at Auburn University. He has served on a number of important advisory boards and panels, including the Research Advisory Board of the National Air and Space Museum, the Editorial Advisory Board of the Smithsonian Institution Press, and the Advisory Board for the Archives of Aerospace Exploration at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He is also a past vice-president of the Virginia Air and Space Museum.
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