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

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


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

About the Author

Eugene F. Kranz joined the NASA Space Task Group in 1960 and was Assistant Flight Director for Project Mercury (the original manned space missions). He continued as Flight Director for the Apollo 11 lunar landing. He is a co-recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work leading the Apollo 13 teams. Failure Is Not an Option is his first book. He lives with his family near Houston, Texas.

Table of Contents


1 The Four-Inch Flight

2 "Liftoff; the Clock Is Running"

3 "God Speed, John Glenn"

4 The Brotherhood

5 The Making of a Rocket Man

6 Gemini — The Twins

7 White Flight

8 The Spirit of 76

9 The Angry Alligator

10 A Fire on the Pad

11 Out of the Ashes

12 The X Mission

13 The Christmas Story

14 1969 — The Year of Apollo

15 SimSup Wins the Final Round

16 "We Copy You Down, Eagle"

17 "What the Hell Was That?"

18 The Age of Aquarius

19 Coming Home

20 Shepard's Return

21 What Do You Do After the Moon?

22 The Last Liftoff


Where They Are


Appendix: Foundations of Mission Control

Glossary of Terms


Product Details

Kranz, Gene
Simon & Schuster
New York, NY :
Aeronautics & Astronautics
Manned space flight
Ground support systems
General Biography
United states
Astronautics -- United States -- History.
United States - 20th Century (1945 to 2000)
Engineering -- History.
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
April 2000
Grade Level:
9.25 x 6.12 in 24.36 oz

Related Subjects

Biography » Science and Technology
Engineering » Engineering » History
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
Reference » Science Reference » Technology
Science and Mathematics » Astronomy » Space Exploration
Science and Mathematics » Physics » Astrophysics

Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond
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Product details 416 pages Simon & Schuster - English 9780743200790 Reviews:
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