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Failure is not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond (2000)

by Eugene Kranz

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1,3002714,753 (4.17)20
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 film Apollo 13, Kranz was played by the actor Ed Harris, who earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance.) In Failure 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.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
If you have the time and interest, I encourage you to read Andrew Chaikin's A Man on the Moon first. Doing so, I believe, enhanced even more my appreciation of Kranz's excellent autobiography. Don't think that watching "Apollo 13" gives you a full appreciation of what Mission Control does for space missions. It takes the perspective of someone who has been in the hot seat and excelled under the pressure to really convey the scope and intensity of the job. ( )
  Treebeard_404 | Jan 23, 2024 |
Very well written. This book tells the story of the creation of Mission Control and the role of the flight director. Gene Kranz was a part of the space program from its beginnings. Detailing problems and obstacles from Mercury to Gemini through Apollo.
This read like a good novel, with the suspense of problems encountered by our space pioneers. Gene relates the stories of the space programs and the real people doing the work necessary to sustain those programs.
If you enjoyed Hollywood's Apollo 13, meet the real Gene Cranz and the other real men and women who ultimately out mankind on the moon. ( )
  trueblueglue | Nov 23, 2023 |
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this. As a child of the Space-Age, I grew up with Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. I thought I knew a lot about these programs, but Gene reveals some backstage drama and even some mission peril that I did not previously know about. There were some points where the litany of names became a little tiresome. But the space program was built by real people and they deserve every shout out. Recommended. ( )
  zot79 | Aug 20, 2023 |
read, listened, memoir, nasa, apollo ( )
  jcvogan1 | Jul 8, 2023 |
This year is the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, so I read many Apollo 11 picture books with the children. Then hubby and I watched the film Apollo 13. And I nerded out and wanted to know more about both missions. This book went way beyond my expectations, though, since the author Gene Kranz worked not just on Apollo and Apollo 13. He was basically involved in the NASA program from its beginning, so he gave detailed, first-person accounts on every single mission in Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo, from his perspective in the Mission Control room. It was pretty epic. (But long, because there were a lot of missions.) I checked this book out from the library but will probably buy the book for keepsake if it becomes on sale. ( )
  CathyChou | Mar 11, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
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With love to my wife, Marta, and our children, Carmen, Lucy, Joan, Mark, Bridid, and Jean
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"Houston, we have a problem."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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 film Apollo 13, Kranz was played by the actor Ed Harris, who earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance.) In Failure 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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