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A New York Times Bestseller

 "An important addition to the chronicles of America's early space program."
Baltimore Sun

"A rich, behind-the-scenes account."
Houston Chronicle

 

Title:  Failure is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond
Author:  Kranz, Gene
Binding:   paperback
Publisher:  Berkley
ISBN:  0425179877 
List price:  $14.00
Your cost:  $6.95
Pages: 415
Dimensions: 1 x 9 x 6
inches

Kranz, a former Air Force fighter pilot, was NASA's flight director from the start of the Mercury program. He worked on each of the Apollo missions, including the fatal Apollo 11 launch; the film "Apollo 13" portrayed how Kranz led the rescue efforts of that crew. This trade paper reprint of Kranz's best-selling memoir comprises his own telling of the Apollo 13 story and much more from the space program's earliest years."Book News" (2004)

Plenty of books (and several films) have already tried to depict the space program's excitement; few of their creators had the first-person experience or the attention to detail that Krantz offers in this dramatic book. When the heroic American astronauts of the '60s and '70s inquired, "Houston, do you read?" it was often Krantz's team who answered from the ground. Veteran NASA flight controller Krantz (portrayed by Ed Harris in the film Apollo 13) has written a personable memoir, one that follows his and NASA's careers from the start of the space race through "the last lunar strike," Apollo 17 (1972-1973). Krantz's story opens in the world of the first U.S. space scientists, of exploding Mercury-Atlas rockets, flaming escape towers and "the first rule of flight control": "If you don't know what to do, don't do anything!" Its climax is Apollo 13, with Krantz serving as "lead flight director" and helping to save the trapped astronauts' lives. His account of that barely averted disaster evokes the adrenalized mood of the flight controllers and the technical problems ("gimbal lock," oxygen status, return trajectories) that had to be solved for the astronauts to survive.

Elsewhere in these often-gripping pages we learn of the quarrels that almost derailed Gemini 9A's spacewalk; "the best leaders the program ever had," among them George Mueller, who revived NASA after a 1966 launch-pad fire; and the combination of teamwork and expertise that made the moon landings possible.  Eight black and white photos. 

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