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Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a…

Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut (2006)

by Mike Mullane

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This is part autobiography and part rant against NASA management. I got 3/4 of the way through but just got bored. It's a shame, because it started off really interesting. As my husband pointed out, the author has a bit of a problem in that two of his three space flights were military, and so he can't talk about them. Instead he makes up the bulk of the book by detailing office politics and leadership failings. That just isn't very interesting to me. ( )
  eclecticdodo | Mar 18, 2017 |
I had mixed feelings about this book.

On one hand it is really well written, flowed really well, didn't get bogged down in the techno babble that dooms so many other books on space and space exploration, and at times was funny and poignant. It gives a very good behind the scenes look at the Shuttle program, its management, and most importantly the personalities of the astronauts themselves. His recounting of the flights he participated in were particularly good, including exceptionally well written sections on the times he spent simply watching the Earth go by beneath him. Best of all it is a very easy read!

On the other hand, Mullane tries too hard to come off as the typically over-sexed, right wing, hot shot rocket jock everyone assumes test pilots are. It seems contrived. The constant stream of digs at N.O.W., Gloria Steinem, Ted Kennedy and "commies" grew kind of tiresome. And I am convinced he doesn't actually know what the term "political correctness" means. He seems to think every time someone pushed back on some sexist and/or inappropriate thing he said or did they were being "politically correct." In actuality they were just pointing out he was being a jerk.

He was also unnecessarily critical of non-astronauts who either flew the shuttle or had some other role astronauts with a military background disapproved of. In what seems like a requirement for test pilots he apparently believed the Shuttle Program was there exclusively so he could fulfill his dream of getting into space. Any accommodation made to non-astronauts that delayed that goal was viewed with disdain.

His criticisms of John Glenn and Christa McAuliffe were notably off base...referring to their role in the shuttle program as immoral. He seems not to have a grasp of the larger purpose for manned space exploration, nor the fact that its funding is dependent on the support of the American people.

In the epilogue he included a moving tribute to the professional astronauts who were killed in the Challenger disaster; omitting part timers Christa McAuliffe and Greg Jarvis from his tribute. An unnecessary and petty omission in my opinion; one that ignores the inspiration McAuliffe has been to younger generations.

These criticisms aside however, I really did enjoy this book. The folks that decide to risk their lives doing this work will always get slack from me. ( )
  mybucketlistofbooks | Jan 10, 2015 |
Entertaining, funny, informative - I enjoyed this immensely. ( )
  SChant | Apr 26, 2013 |
This is a very funny and really interesting look at what it was like to be a NASA space shuttle astronaut. Told by a man who admittedly suffers from "arrested development" and who happens to be in the first group to include females (Sally Ride was in this group), Mike Mullane recounts his experience with honesty, humor, and hubris (mixed with a bit of humility, too), giving us a behind the scenes look at this glamorous yet dangerous job. ( )
  michellebarton | Jan 24, 2013 |
Mullane is perhaps not the most famous astronaut ever, but his honest account of life and his willingness to put it on the line to ride NASA's rockets is possibly the best account you will ever read of what life was like for an 'ordinary' astronaut, if such a word could ever be applied to such a group of extraordinary people. Mullane flew in three space shuttle missions, both before and after the Challenger disaster. His pen portraits of his crews and colleagues, of his family and of the deeply dysfunctional NASA management are both engaging and disturbing (in the last instance). Mullane in his younger incarnations doesn't come out of it all with entirely shining colors, but it is part of his character - and ultimately the power of this book - to tell the story warts and all. The trasformation of Mullane is easily the best part of this story, and although he never quite pins it down, you realize that the real heroes of this story are Mullane's family and his flight colleague, Judith Resnik, and justly so. A surprising story that is worth absorbing. Highly recommended. ( )
  nandadevi | Aug 28, 2012 |
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To my mother and father, who lifted my eyes to space.
To the thousands of men and women of the space shuttle team, who put me in space.
To Donna, who was at my side every step of the way.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743276833, Paperback)

In 1978, the first group of space shuttle astronauts was introduced to the world -- twenty-nine men and six women who would carry NASA through the most tumultuous years of the space shuttle program. Among them was USAF Colonel Mike Mullane, who, in his memoir Riding Rockets, strips the heroic veneer from the astronaut corps and paints them as they are -- human.

Mullane's tales of arrested development among military flyboys working with feminist pioneers and post-doc scientists are sometimes bawdy, often comical, and always entertaining. He vividly portrays every aspect of the astronaut experience, from telling a female technician which urine-collection condom size is a fit to hearing "Taps" played over a friend's grave. He is also brutally honest in his criticism of a NASA leadership whose bungling would precipitate the Challenger disaster -- killing four members of his group. A hilarious, heartfelt story of life in all its fateful uncertainty, Riding Rockets will resonate long after the call of "Wheel stop."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:51 -0400)

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In this memoir, Mike Mullane presents a look into the often hilarious, sometime volatile dynamics of space shuttle astronauts.

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