Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond

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Simon and Schuster, 2001 M02 21 - 416 pages
24 Reviews
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This New York Times bestselling memoir of a veteran NASA flight director tells riveting stories from the early days of the Mercury program through Apollo 11 (the moon landing) and Apollo 13, for both of which Kranz was flight director.

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 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. He reveals behind-the-scenes details to demonstrate the leadership, discipline, trust, and teamwork that made the space program a success.

A fascinating firsthand account by a veteran mission controller of one of America’s greatest achievements, Failure is Not an Option 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.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - tgraettinger - LibraryThing

Very enjoyable - great to read the behind-the-scenes stories of the unsung heroes who worked at mission control. It was surprising to learn how many glitches there were in practically every mission ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - buffalogr - LibraryThing

Fair to middlin' technical treatise on the history of USA space flight program. In the first few pages, I was bored by the technobabble and skipped to the pieces that interested me: Apollo 11, 13 and ... Read full review


The FourInch Flight
Liftoff the Clock Is Running
God Speed john Glenn
The Brotherhood
The Making of a Rocket Man
GeminiThe Twins 1 19
White Flight
The Spirit of 76
10 AFire on the Pad
11 Out of the Ashes
12 The X Mission
13 The Christmas Story
15 SimSup Wins the Final Round
Glossary of Terms

9 The Angry Alligator

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About the author (2001)

Eugene F. Kranz joined the NASA Space Task Group in 1960 and was Assistant Flight Director for Project Mercury (the original manned space missions). He continued as Flight Director for the Apollo 11 lunar landing. He is a co-recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work leading the Apollo 13 teams. Failure Is Not an Option is his first book. He lives with his family near Houston, Texas.

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