Synopses & Reviews
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.
Jim Lovellcommander, Apollo 13; and author, Lost Moon (also published as Apollo 13)There are three kinds of people in the world: those who make things happen...those who watch things happen...and those who wonder what happened. In Failure Is Not an Option, Gene Kranz is the one who makes things happen. This is the thrilling story of NASA's Mission Control teams that guided the Apollo spacecraft through successful lunar landings and saved the lives of my Apollo 13 crew. Kranz takes you through each exciting flight as crisis after crisis is overcome to add a never-to-be-forgotten chapter to the history of spaceflight.
"An engaging behind-the-scenes memoir, a welcome contribution to the history of space flight." -- John Noble Wilford, The New York Times Book Review
"A blow-by-blow account of heroic teams overcoming adversity...No matter how many times you read the story of the Apollo 11 landing, with computer alarms going off and only seconds of fuel left, it is a heartstopper. Here, Kranz recalls it vividly." -- Alex Roland, The Washington Post
"A rich, behind-the-scenes account of the experts who held the lives of America's first space explorers in their hands." -- Mark Carreau, Houston Chronicle
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