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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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  •  
    TM Chicago, IL United States 02-18-14
    TM Chicago, IL United States 02-18-14 Member Since 2012

    TJM

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Dry Insights in to the Space Program"
    Any additional comments?

    I was hoping to love this book and it does give an interesting inside look at many aspects of the Mercury and Apollo missions, but what made Gene Kranz a great Nasa mission controller does not make him an engaging author.

    The stories are full of interesting facts, but there is little-to-no drama in the writing, even when recounting the most dramatic of events, such as the Apollo 13 mission. All NASA folk seem to be well trained in handling the media. Everything is upbeat, succinct and politically correct. This is very important to NASA's success, but this mind-set has carried in to this book. So it is rather unemotional and dry.

    Worth a listen for NASA fans, but certainly not enthralling.

    By the way it is clear that Gene Kranz was a vital player in the space program's success and I think we should all be grateful to him.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JURANDYR Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 01-01-14
    JURANDYR Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 01-01-14 Member Since 2013
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    9
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    "Wonderful experience!"
    Would you listen to Failure Is Not an Option again? Why?

    Absolutely! This is a must for the space exploration history afficcionado!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Tough question! But I'd had to say the author, Gene himself. He is the reason I bought the book in the first place


    Which character – as performed by Danny Campbell – was your favorite?

    All of them! I just loved the book. Danny delivered a great performance.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Certainly!


    Any additional comments?

    It was a wonderful experience. Thanks a lot!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brian Wilmington, NC, United States 12-23-13
    Brian Wilmington, NC, United States 12-23-13 Member Since 2012

    Engineer & Artist -- Learning to use all my senses to enrich the journey of life

    ratings
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    52
    3
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    Story
    "Inspiring Leadership and Technical Problem Solving"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    For any scientist or engineer, this book takes you to the front lines of test pilots and the inherent danger s of spaceflight...from the view of the brainiacs in mission control who are the necessary and incredibly important partners of the astronauts in those tiny capsules.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Of course, Gene Kranz -- demonstrating authentic leadership in the midst of adversity.


    What does Danny Campbell bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I've read the book. The reading is exceptionally well done and I can put Kranz's face on the voice of the narrator.


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

    It makes me wish we were still pushing for human space flight.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a great book for aficionados of engineering, science, operations, spaceflight, and pushing technology. But, it is best a book of leadership and companionship required to push the boundaries of human endeavor.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Salem,VA 11-27-13
    Richard Salem,VA 11-27-13 Member Since 2011
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    86
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    "Great Listen"
    If you could sum up Failure Is Not an Option in three words, what would they be?

    History of space flight all in one listen.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The overall detail of the book went into on the entire program.


    What about Danny Campbell’s performance did you like?

    Great story teller.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, it starts with history of the birth of mission control and later gets into the actual missions.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Len Hepburn Brisbane 11-09-13
    Len Hepburn Brisbane 11-09-13 Member Since 2012
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    1
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    "The Inside NASA Story"
    Where does Failure Is Not an Option rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of the very best I've had, Could not put it down.


    What did you like best about this story?

    As a boy living through the 60's I grew up reading of NASA, and was fascinated by the Mercury, Gemini & Apollo missions. Kranz's personal insights into how NASA grew and evolved throughout the period explained what was going on behind the public face. The many unsung heroes at Houston are finally recorded for posterity!


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The Apollo 11 moonshot, and the safe recovery of Apollo 13.


    Any additional comments?

    NASA took the USA to the Moon, starting out from a distant 2nd to the Russians, Certainly the Astronauts had the Right Stuff, but so too did Kranz and his colleagues at NASA.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DEMARTINI Kentfield, CA, United States 09-06-11
    DEMARTINI Kentfield, CA, United States 09-06-11 Member Since 2005
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    "Boring"

    How could something as dynamic as space exploration be so boring. I guess I was hoping for the "Right Stuff" and got a dry detailed history of one aspect of the space program.

    1 of 13 people found this review helpful
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