Lately I’ve been reading Failure Is Not An Option, the book written by longtime NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz. I highly recommend it! If you’re at all interested in the American space program, and especially if you like behind-the-scenes inside information, you’ll love this book.
For a decade at least I’ve watched Apollo 13 several times a year, enthralled, each time wondering not just how accurate it is but how the rapid growth of the space program had functioned day to day in order to put human beings on the moon so quickly after President Kennedy’s inspiring charge.
Astronaut Jim Lovell has always said, “It wasn’t a miracle. We just decided to go.”
Hard work and dedication. Toughness and competence.
With a short flashback to his formative years, Mr. Kranz takes you through the grueling days and rugged nights of Mission Control, from the near chaos of the early space agency before the first Mercury mission through the well-oiled machine of the Apollo program. New staff chosen by the dozens, many straight out of college, and immediately tossed headfirst into complex, ill-defined roles, learning to work together while writing the books on their own jobs, with expectations and deadlines shifting constantly under their feet. Add to that the nail-biting excitement of each test, each launch, and each landing. The tragedy of Apollo 1, the riveting thrills of Apollo 11, and the “successful failure” of Apollo 13.
I’ve always been astounded by what these people accomplished. Learning how they accomplished it has been beyond fun!
And despite the gravity of the subject, all throughout the book is Mr. Kranz’s irrepressible sense of humor. So check it out from your local library, order it, or borrow it from a friend. Curl up in your reading nook with tea or coffee, and ride along with Mission Control as they fly you to the moon.