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Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond | [Gene Kranz]

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

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2009 Gene Kranz (P)2011 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"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 Krantz has, whose role as flight control "White" his readers will admire or even wish to emulate." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Daniel 01-25-15
    Daniel 01-25-15 Member Since 2014
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    "I loved it and listened to it twice!"

    I loved the book, and recommend it to anyone that is interested in the history of nasa and early space flight.
    The only con for me was the periodic mentioning of his role in the sky lab & shuttle program, yet he never went over what his role was in the programs. I am assuming he felt that an administrator roll in the programs wasn't interesting enough to include into the book.
    All in all, this is my favorite book so far that I have downloaded on audible.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rogerm 01-23-15
    Rogerm 01-23-15 Member Since 2014
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    "The real deal"

    No Hollywood here. Just the facts as seen from the trench - so to speak.
    Long on detail but riveting.
    I enjoyed it immensely. Apollo 13 chapter really highlighted the problems those three brave men faced.
    The overall cool professionalism of the astronauts is amazing!
    Thank you 'Flight'!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MaryAnne Williamsburg, VA, United States 01-02-15
    MaryAnne Williamsburg, VA, United States 01-02-15 Member Since 2008
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    "Lots of interesting background"

    Only an insider like Kranz could give detail on every aspect of the developing space program. This book sucked me in and I enjoyed every minute.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elsie MacGregor 12-31-14 Member Since 2012

    Moo

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    "Insider's history of the American space program"

    A history of the space program is told by a flight director who was with NASA from Gemini through the Apollo program. Overall, I found this story interesting and more engaging than a Discovery channel documentary. The people who made spaceflight possible became "real people" instead of background characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    FatOldBroad 12-22-14
    FatOldBroad 12-22-14 Member Since 2015

    FatOldBroad...lover of mystery/thriller genre and biographies.

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    "Polishing NASA's Tarnished Image"

    I want to believe in NASA's future... but I don't. Nice account of the glory days though.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vern 12-19-14
    Vern 12-19-14 Member Since 2009
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    "A true American hero!"

    Spellbinding!
    I work in the space program and was inspired by Mr. Kranz'story to re-energize my own work.
    It would have been better if he had read the narration. I have had the privilege of seeing him speak. His descriptions of the events are nothing short of artistic as well as technically articulate. He holds audiences breathless!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    richard 10-27-14
    richard 10-27-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Pure inspiration"
    What about Danny Campbell’s performance did you like?

    A very clear and easy to listen to performance. He didn't just read the book, he turned it into a drama.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I will have to admit when listening to the part when Apollo 13 landed in the ocean, a tear landed on my cheek. It was so intense I had to stop the playback momentarily.


    Any additional comments?

    The book far exceeded my expectations. It is far more than a historical account of the space program. It is one of the most inspirational books I've read (listened to). Being 22 years old at the time of the 1969 moon landing, I wasn't paying much attention to anything outside of my little world: the Viet Nam war, Woodstock, bell bottoms, latest releases by CCR, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and so on. I was into a different kind of space. I happened to get interested in this topic due to a recent visit to NASA Houston where I was amazed at how little I knew what this country had done 50 years ago! Minimal computer capability, make-it-up as you go infrastructure.... how did they do it? This account tells how.This book came especially alive for me because I had sat in the press room behind the glass windows of Mission Control at NASA Houston just a month before (that room now is preserved as a historical site). I can almost picture Gene Kranz sitting there in his vest, cigarette and fixed focus on the monitor. There so much to this book - management, planning, decision-making, teamwork, self (ego) control, self-sacrifice, and working at great effectiveness under incredible stress, and doing all these things both on the fly and for extended periods of time. I'm going to have to listen to this book again, soon.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Alex 10-06-14
    Alex 10-06-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Written by an engineer, for an engineer."
    What would have made Failure Is Not an Option better?

    Unfortunately, I am not an engineer. Being a NASA and early space race enthusiast was not enough to get me through even the most "fascinating" portions of the book (Sheppard in space, landing on moon, Apollo 13). It's very unfortunate the Author didn't work with an actual writer to make this book truly appealing to the masses.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sivan Houston, TX, United States 09-04-14
    Sivan Houston, TX, United States 09-04-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Great story but too technical at times"
    Where does Failure Is Not an Option rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Well worth the read but at times is too technical. I read "Rocket Men" and it was much more my thing. This book is the personal experience on Gene Kranz while "Rocket Men" is a broad history of the space program. This book hits it's heights when recounting the missions that went badly. I found this book easy to get thou and this for me a sign that I enjoyed it.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    K. Adair Spring Hill, TN 06-16-14
    K. Adair Spring Hill, TN 06-16-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Very Technical"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I enjoyed this book but it was very very technical. If you're looking for a book about the Apollo 13 mission then this isn't the book for you. It's more about the details of Kranz career and the early space missions.


    Would you recommend Failure Is Not an Option to your friends? Why or why not?

    I would recommend it if you want to learn about very technical information. There's more details than story.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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