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Failure is not an option : mission control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and beyond
2000
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Summary
Gene Kranz was present at the creation of America's manned space program and was a key player in it for three decades. As a flight director in NASA's Mission Control, Kranz witnessed firsthand the making of history. He participated in the space program from the early days of the Mercury program to the last Apollo mission, and beyond. He endured the disastrous first years when rockets blew up and the United States seemed to fall further behind the Soviet Union in the space race. He helped to launch Alan Shepard and John Glenn, then assumed the flight director's role in the Gemini program, which he guided to fruition. With his teammates, he accepted the challenge to carry out President John F. Kennedy's commitment to land a man on the Moon before the end of the 1960s.Kranz was flight director for both Apollo 11, the mission in which Neil Armstrong fulfilled President Kennedy's pledge, and Apollo 13. He headed the Tiger Team that had to figure out how to bring the three Apollo 13 astronauts safely back to Earth. (In the filmApollo 13,Kranz was played by the actor Ed Harris, who earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance.)InFailure Is Not an Option,Gene Kranz recounts these thrilling historic events and offers new information about the famous flights. What appeared as nearly flawless missions to the Moon were, in fact, a series of hair-raising near misses. When the space technology failed, as it sometimes did, the controllers' only recourse was to rely on their skills and those of their teammates. Kranz takes us inside Mission Control and introduces us to some of the whiz kids -- still in their twenties, only a few years out of college -- who had to figure it all out as they went along, creating a great and daring enterprise. He reveals behind-the-scenes details to demonstrate the leadership, discipline, trust, and teamwork that made the space program a success.Finally, Kranz reflects on what has happened to the space program and offers his own bold suggestions about what we ought to be doing in space now.This is a fascinating firsthand account written by a veteran mission controller of one of America's greatest achievements.
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Booklist Review
The NASA controller best known for his role in Apollo 13 entitles his autobiography with his personal motto. Kranz's NASA career, which followed a short stint as a fighter pilot, began way back in the Mercury days, with Alan Shepard's 1961 suborbital flight and the painful process of testing the Atlas booster for manned missions. Besides Apollo 13, the high points of Kranz's narrative are John Glenn's orbital flight, the moon-orbiting Apollo 8, and the first moon landing, Apollo 11--experiences as profound for the mission control professionals as they were for TV audiences. In passing, Kranz provides a wealth of fascinating data, anecdotes, and personal sketches; pays a large tribute to long-suffering wives (and a few husbands); and makes abundantly clear the amount of improvisation and the number of narrow margins involved in the early days of manned space flight. A song popular in space-advocacy circles is "Here's to the Unsung Heroes"--the people on the ground, that is, one of whom has now sung himself, effectively and movingly. --Roland Green
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Table of Contents
1The Four-Inch Flightp. 11
2"Liftoff; the Clock Is Running"p. 36
3"God Speed, John Glenn"p. 56
4The Brotherhoodp. 78
5The Making of a Rocket Manp. 101
6Gemini--The Twinsp. 119
7White Flightp. 132
8The Spirit of 76p. 153
9The Angry Alligatorp. 175
10A Fire on the Padp. 191
11Out of the Ashesp. 208
12The X Missionp. 223
13The Christmas Storyp. 234
141969--The Year of Apollop. 247
15SimSup Wins the Final Roundp. 256
16"We Copy You Down, Eagle"p. 272
17"What the Hell Was That?"p. 296
18The Age of Aquariusp. 306
19Coming Homep. 325
20Shepard's Returnp. 340
21What Do You Do After the Moon?p. 352
22The Last Liftoffp. 372
Epiloguep. 381
Where They Arep. 385
Acknowledgmentsp. 388
AppendixFoundations of Mission Controlp. 393
Glossary of Termsp. 394
Indexp. 399
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