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Published by Hyperion Books for Children, 1996


Nothing is going to stop Elliot from achieving his goal. No one was more surprised than Elliot when he was selected by NASA to be the first teen in space, and now nothing is going to stop him from achieving that goal. Elliot looks up at the stars in anticipation of his mission on board the space shuttle Endeavor, little realizing the profound effect it will have on his life - or on the life of a stranger living halfway around the world.


During the course of conversations via the radio aboard the spacecraft, Elliot encounters Vincent Ole Tome, a Massai herder his own age. But now Elliot is looking down at Earth from inside the crippled space shuttle while Vincent looks up into the night sky, where his newfound friend's life hangs in the balance.


This exciting and provocative new novel by Ben Mikaelsen will lift readers out of their seats.


The Creation of Countdown . . .
The idea for Countdown came to me when I realized that in our lifetime there will probably be the first junior astronaut. I asked myself who that person would realistically be. I wanted to tell that story. Countdown became a two part story. One young boy is the first junior astronaut, the other a Maasai herdsboy.

To research this story, I spent a month at the US space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. I also traveled to Kenya, Africa, watching animals on the Maasai Mara and living with a Maasai family down near the Tanzania border. This is the hardest book I have ever written because the thoughts and feelings were the most complicated to communicate.


Available in soft cover or audio-book.

Peruse Ben's Other Engaging Stories

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