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Old 04-09-2007, 02:50 PM   #42
Bob Russell
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Join Date: May 2004
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I'm reading "Failure is Not an Option" from Sony Connect. It's written by Gene Kranz, one of the early members of the space program who wrote the procedures for the early Mercury missions, the became the assistant flight director and so forth. He's probably most famous for being the Apollo 13 flight director.

So far, this is one of the best books I've ever read. Maybe that's hyperbole because it's fresh in my mind and I'm enjoying it so much now, but really it is that good.

He's writing from a position of authority and first hand experience in one of the most exciting projects/programs you can imagine. There's a lot of detail, so you need to really want to know about the space program, but if you are interested, this is a must read. (With the caveat that I'm only about 15% into the book, so it is possible it becomes a dud later, but I really doubt it will!)

Connect says it's "The thrilling story of NASA's Mission Control teams that guided the 'Apollo' spacecraft through successful lunar landings is recounted by 'Apollo 13' flight director Gene Kranz." But it starts out with the first manned Mercury flights, and the whole description is fascinating and mind blowing. It's almost surreal, it's so out of the ordinary. It makes you want to be a part of something that will change the world.

There's not a lot of discussion about the Russian space program, which was way ahead of NASA, but it was referred to by him in the beginning because apprently it was pretty intimidating to be racing such an advanced team with proven successes already, especially when they had been having a lot of problems getting rockets to fly right and had never put a man into space. He probably didn't know too much about what they were doing, though, because he says that the defense dept didn't really want to share with civilians on the space program how much they knew from their intelligence sources. I wish there was an equivalent book about the Russian space program also. It would be fascinating to see the same thing done by a whole other group of people independently.
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