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

by Eugene Kranz

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1,0902114,785 (4.15)19
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 21 (next | show all)
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 |
For anybody who is interested in the golden age of the man space missions, this book is a real gem. ( )
  Pnazemi | Aug 22, 2021 |
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. To the outsider, it seemed that every mission (with the exception of Apollo 13) was flawless, without any real problems. The people on the ground working with the astronauts really made the missions work and achieve their objectives. My favorite take-away: the people on the ground came up with options that provided time to solve the thorny problems that they encountered on a flight. ( )
  tgraettinger | Feb 21, 2021 |
Although the writing style frequently leaves something to be desired, this was a fascinating look at Mission Control during the golden era of space flight. I especially appreciated the overarching view of how we got to where we are. ( )
  LACbooks | Dec 22, 2020 |
This book is a lot more than just a rehash of Apollo 13. In fact, it discusses pretty much all of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions (but mostly the ones that Gene Kranz was flight director for). I appreciated how each mission was made interesting by the narrative, even if they were flights that have otherwise been pretty much forgotten. In less capable hands, this would have been a monotonous, boring book. It wasn't. ( )
  lemontwist | Apr 5, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (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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