counter create hit Failure is Not an Option: Mission Control From Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond - Download Free eBook
Hot Best Seller

Failure is Not an Option: Mission Control From Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond

Availability: Ready to download

This memoir of a veteran NASA flight director tells riveting stories from the early days of the Mercury program through Apollo 11 (the moon landing) and Apollo 13, for both of which Kranz was flight director. 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, This memoir of a veteran NASA flight director tells riveting stories from the early days of the Mercury program through Apollo 11 (the moon landing) and Apollo 13, for both of which Kranz was flight director. 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 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. He reveals behind-the-scenes details to demonstrate the leadership, discipline, trust, and teamwork that made the space program a success. A fascinating firsthand account by a veteran mission controller of one of America’s greatest achievements, Failure is Not an Option 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.


Compare

This memoir of a veteran NASA flight director tells riveting stories from the early days of the Mercury program through Apollo 11 (the moon landing) and Apollo 13, for both of which Kranz was flight director. 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, This memoir of a veteran NASA flight director tells riveting stories from the early days of the Mercury program through Apollo 11 (the moon landing) and Apollo 13, for both of which Kranz was flight director. 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 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. He reveals behind-the-scenes details to demonstrate the leadership, discipline, trust, and teamwork that made the space program a success. A fascinating firsthand account by a veteran mission controller of one of America’s greatest achievements, Failure is Not an Option 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.

30 review for Failure is Not an Option: Mission Control From Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond

  1. 5 out of 5

    Joyce McCombs

    I'm the daughter of a space guy... Dad worked on the Lunar Rover and various Apollo mission components as part of Boeing in Seattle. As a child of the 60's, we were rousted out of bed many an early morning to watch a "shot go up"... and every time it was a thrill. Apollo 13 was something we took personally in our house... I remember my mom and I were attending a PTA meeting and all of a sudden my Dad showed up (VERY unusual!) and announced that "the mission was in trouble". Every one of the pare I'm the daughter of a space guy... Dad worked on the Lunar Rover and various Apollo mission components as part of Boeing in Seattle. As a child of the 60's, we were rousted out of bed many an early morning to watch a "shot go up"... and every time it was a thrill. Apollo 13 was something we took personally in our house... I remember my mom and I were attending a PTA meeting and all of a sudden my Dad showed up (VERY unusual!) and announced that "the mission was in trouble". Every one of the parents there had a connection to Boeing, and the meeting was adjourned and everyone went home to watch the story unfold on television. Gene Kranz was one of the reasons the crew made it back and reading this book will give you a lot more information (but it's not TOO techy) than the news casts of the day - it really was perilous and many, many brave people helped them get home.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    Ultimately this book was just OK...I was very interested in reading about the early NASA programs from the perspective of someone on the ground instead of one of the astronauts, and it definitely delivered in that regard. Kranz details his whole career at NASA from its start to its peak and through its decline. I mostly wanted to read this book to hear about the Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 missions, but the sections on those were actually somewhat short. Instead, Kranz included almost too much detai Ultimately this book was just OK...I was very interested in reading about the early NASA programs from the perspective of someone on the ground instead of one of the astronauts, and it definitely delivered in that regard. Kranz details his whole career at NASA from its start to its peak and through its decline. I mostly wanted to read this book to hear about the Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 missions, but the sections on those were actually somewhat short. Instead, Kranz included almost too much detail on the earlier Mercury and Gemini programs. The biggest weakness of this book is that there is generally a lack of storytelling...it's hard to follow a specific theme or challenge throughout the pages, so it just seems like a disjointed set of chapters that are good in their own right, but don't form any cohesive story that make you want to keep turning the pages.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Crystal Starr Light

    Read this in my teenaged years - loved it! Gene Kranz is one of my space heroes.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Deanna

    Just for aficionados of space flight history. Invaluable to the historical record. Engaging. Not a particularly personal memoir, yet by the end I felt I knew Kranz quite well. Absolutely this will be a re-read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth (Alaska)

    Last year when my great granddaughter was born, I started writing letters to her every month. I do not live near her, and this would be my way of sharing family stories and whatever else I might think of as time moves on. This month marks the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. I wanted to be sure to share my memories of that day and also of the early space program in general. I was in high school when Alan Shepard became the first American in space. The more I thought about what I wante Last year when my great granddaughter was born, I started writing letters to her every month. I do not live near her, and this would be my way of sharing family stories and whatever else I might think of as time moves on. This month marks the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. I wanted to be sure to share my memories of that day and also of the early space program in general. I was in high school when Alan Shepard became the first American in space. The more I thought about what I wanted to tell her, I realized I wanted to go back and fill in a lot of what I do *not* remember. I remembered all the highlights of this time period, but the book filled in so many details. What Kranz does so well is to put the reader at the console along with the flight controller. Flight controllers need to know about every aspect of the flight from liftoff to touchdown. Simulation was preparation. They sat in a mock up of the capsule so that they could envision every light and switch the astronauts saw. They knew timeframes in which maneuvers could happen. It was their call whether a mission could be continued or aborted. Even though I knew the outcomes, Kranz well conveyed the tension for him and others. Things could and did go wrong, not just on Apollo 13, but on all of the flights. I found it fascinating to learn how they went about preparing for the flights and then working through problems. Technical references could not be left out and there were a lot of acronyms. I did my best to follow the narrative, and there is a glossary at the back in case I didn't remember what some initials meant. Kranz lets us see the human side of things, too. The early Mercury capsule was small. The interior of the space capsule that Alan Shepard would soon climb into was so small that a human being could barely fit. The back of his couch was within inches of the heat shield. The instrument panel was less than two feet from his face and the parachutes only five feet forward. John Glenn had hung a sign on the panel: "No Handball Playing in This area." I marked (and failed to mark) several passages that I found meaningful. Apollo 11 would be the flight for the ages, but Apollo 8 was a very big leap that drew on one's spiritual and moral resolve. For us it would become the second greatest Christmas story ever told. Think about the imagery of a rocket soaring through limitless space, so close to heaven the passengers could reach out and touch the face of God.Having been originally published in 2000, it isn't a recent addition to books about America's early space program. I'm very glad of the opportunity to read this. It is very readable. Although it just barely crosses the threshold, I'm happy to give it 5-stars.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Heather Domin

    I actually put off finishing this because I didn't want it to be over. I'm not really sure how to review it, except to say that if you're a space geek, this is pretty much exactly how you would expect Gene Kranz to write -- you can hear him narrating it in your head. I especially love how much he praised the people you don't see on the documentaries, the secretaries and math nerds and computer geeks (including the women programmers who basically wrote the entire space program). We rarely get to I actually put off finishing this because I didn't want it to be over. I'm not really sure how to review it, except to say that if you're a space geek, this is pretty much exactly how you would expect Gene Kranz to write -- you can hear him narrating it in your head. I especially love how much he praised the people you don't see on the documentaries, the secretaries and math nerds and computer geeks (including the women programmers who basically wrote the entire space program). We rarely get to see the MC side of things, and this book makes you appreciate them even more. Definitely going on the To-Buy list.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I'd been looking for a read about Neil Armstrong for the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing and instead made the thrilling discovery that Mr. Kranz wrote a book! I just knew I'd like him after seeing him interviewed on Smithsonian channel, etc. (For reference, Ed Harris played him in the movie Apollo 13.) What took me by surprise is that this fighter/test pilot-engineer-NASA flight director is one helluva writer! He knows just how to describe what things felt like and with just the right balan I'd been looking for a read about Neil Armstrong for the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing and instead made the thrilling discovery that Mr. Kranz wrote a book! I just knew I'd like him after seeing him interviewed on Smithsonian channel, etc. (For reference, Ed Harris played him in the movie Apollo 13.) What took me by surprise is that this fighter/test pilot-engineer-NASA flight director is one helluva writer! He knows just how to describe what things felt like and with just the right balance of detail. This book flowed, I ate up every word. What a ride!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    I picked this as my first "fun book" to read on my Kindle. It was a good read. Kranz was a flight director during the Apollo mission, and is best known to most people as the character played by Ed Harris in "Apollo 13." This book is a good addition to the popular literature on the space program, focusing on the heroic and inspirational efforts of the men and some women who worked as a team to put men on the moon. This notion of teamwork and really hard work under stress and risk is the most impre I picked this as my first "fun book" to read on my Kindle. It was a good read. Kranz was a flight director during the Apollo mission, and is best known to most people as the character played by Ed Harris in "Apollo 13." This book is a good addition to the popular literature on the space program, focusing on the heroic and inspirational efforts of the men and some women who worked as a team to put men on the moon. This notion of teamwork and really hard work under stress and risk is the most impressive part of this book. Kranz is unfailingly gracious about everyone he worked with, and is quite kind to people with whom he sometimes had disagreements. It's impressive to see this sort of evenhandedness in a memoir, although some might like their memoirs more "dishy." Indeed, he is nice to a fault--it would be interesting to learn more about conflicts between smart, strong-minded people about important matters. But this is less Kranz's goal than is the idea that a team can come together and build something as prodigious as a system for putting people on the moon, and getting them home. For space geeks who revel in the technical aspects of the space program, this book may not be fully satisfying, as interesting material is not fully explained or covered, while some technical terms are assumed to be known by the reader. And as space history or policy, this isn't at the same level as some of the more expansive works on the subject. But, again, this isn't Kranz's goal. This is an interesting and fun read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    I've read a number of books on the space race - the time period of Mecury, Gemini and Apollo. I've had a life long interest since I was a child growing up in that era. I give this book four stars because it a story that needs to be told. Gene Kranz is pretty exhaustive in his details but I admit it was way too "operationally" focused for me. I like the human element and this was all about how it was done -- the nuts and bolts. It took me months to get through this book because of the level of op I've read a number of books on the space race - the time period of Mecury, Gemini and Apollo. I've had a life long interest since I was a child growing up in that era. I give this book four stars because it a story that needs to be told. Gene Kranz is pretty exhaustive in his details but I admit it was way too "operationally" focused for me. I like the human element and this was all about how it was done -- the nuts and bolts. It took me months to get through this book because of the level of operational detail. But I think it is an important part of the whole story, so that's why I stuck with it. Addendum: I forgot to mention how utterly brilliant everyone was who worked there at the time. Many fresh out of college. The challenges they faces were enormous. In nearly every mission something went wrong they had to fix--of extreme crises proportions. And like the "cool, steely-eyed missile men" they where, they did it. What NASA accomplished was phenomenal.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ken Hammond

    Failure is Not an Option by Gene Kranz the statement of being Tough & Competent, tough that you are always accountable for what you do or fail to do. Competent, that you never take anything for granted, you must never be found short in your knowledge or skills. This was written on a board and was instigated from the aftermath of 3 astronauts deaths in a fire on the ground, very profound and motivating something worth remembering. Littered with technical details but told in an easy to follow enjo Failure is Not an Option by Gene Kranz the statement of being Tough & Competent, tough that you are always accountable for what you do or fail to do. Competent, that you never take anything for granted, you must never be found short in your knowledge or skills. This was written on a board and was instigated from the aftermath of 3 astronauts deaths in a fire on the ground, very profound and motivating something worth remembering. Littered with technical details but told in an easy to follow enjoyable way. Solid telling of the many relationships between very motivated individual’s working in a high intensity and stressful environment all were young and intrusted with crucial tasks, then let loose by bosses who just simply got out of their way. I liked the way they reacted and handled the many situations and how the many types of personalities some pretty weird others humorous and more were very geeky and technical minded, but they all worked together for a common goal, story is from Mercury through Gemini and then the last Apollo missions, felt the pain on the funding cutbacks and wasted opportunity to keep going imagine what could have been, bases on the moon, manned missions to Mars fantastic science non fiction something really to inspire generations of space geeks. Really loved this story and it’s Imho definitely a blast, pun intended.

  11. 5 out of 5

    George Sink

    This was an incredibly detailed read. I was fascinated by the focus, determination, and skill shown by the teams of flight controllers through the missions from Mercury to Apollo. This book wasn't really a narrative to me in the traditional sense, but rather a personal description of events throughout his career with Mission Control. An excellent, albeit quite dense, read if you're interested in the early US space program from Mission Control's point of view. This was an incredibly detailed read. I was fascinated by the focus, determination, and skill shown by the teams of flight controllers through the missions from Mercury to Apollo. This book wasn't really a narrative to me in the traditional sense, but rather a personal description of events throughout his career with Mission Control. An excellent, albeit quite dense, read if you're interested in the early US space program from Mission Control's point of view.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Freymanja

    Personal Review of "Failure is Not an Option" This fantastic book outlines the major milestones of the American Space Program and the author, Gene Kranz, describes what it was like before the first rockets have ever flown at NASA and the administration's legacy from Skylab and beyond. The balls, courage, and in-the-moment decision making was not just apparent in the astronauts, but also instilled in everyone sitting behind every Mission Control console, wether in Huston or at the Cape. The book Personal Review of "Failure is Not an Option" This fantastic book outlines the major milestones of the American Space Program and the author, Gene Kranz, describes what it was like before the first rockets have ever flown at NASA and the administration's legacy from Skylab and beyond. The balls, courage, and in-the-moment decision making was not just apparent in the astronauts, but also instilled in everyone sitting behind every Mission Control console, wether in Huston or at the Cape. The book is not only a personal account inside some organization but details some of the most historical moments not just in American but in human achievement and exploration especially under the most adverse conditions possible. This was definitely apparent in training the Apollo 1 crew when Kranz accounts, "Nothing could be done for the crew... [we need] to protect the living and keep moving forward. Death had come to the Space Program in the most unimaginable way possible" (Kranz 199). The people of NASA were continuously put under the tightest constraints ever seen in aerospace engineering where technological progress was just barely enough to simply get the mission done; the rockets were borderline "a flying-coffin"(199). In fact just a week before John Glenn flew to space, the type of rocket he was going to go on malfunctioned and had to self destruct. This level of risk-taking is apparent when Kranz mentions,"With only seven days to prepare for our first manned flight...would we be crowning our first space hero—or picking pieces of him along the eastern seaboard?"(Kranz 42) to which he then expresses "We simply could not accept, or even contemplate, another failure" (Kranz 42). Inversely to the occasional setback, there were many miracles that should never have happened but made the finer points in NASA's history of doing the impossible. It was just about to the point of sending prototypes instead of well-revised final design. Overall, the development of NASA was entirely political, "winners" of space milestones were being made just days apart between the USSR and the United States. Any self-respecting world power would want to be the dominate force in any, especially untried, field. Furthermore, not being the defined champion of the Space Race would show weakness and in terms of politics and warfare, if you are weak you are dead. This was of course, the ultimate motive. Above all, getting to the moon would show ultimate superiority. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to know what it's like doing the impossible. In a way this is a story I believe, is stranger than fiction, in terms of not setting limits to what can be done but proving that you-yourself determines how far you can achieve in life and exhibits that anything is possible. Some people today ask, 'Why go to space?'. In short, we 'go to the Moon', not just because it is there, but for exploration, humanity, science, and to make the world a better place.

  13. 5 out of 5

    BigJohn

    I was first introduced to the idea of Gene Kranz when I first saw the film Apollo 13, and then again shortly after I saw the excellent HBO miniseries, From the Earth to the Moon. I found his steely-eyed, take-no-bull, calm and collected attitude, portrayed by Ed Harris in Apollo 13 and Dan Butler in the HBO series, to be an integral part of the NASA equation. So when this book, Failure is Not an Option, came up as a daily deal from Audible, I jumped on it. I couldn’t have made a better decision. I was first introduced to the idea of Gene Kranz when I first saw the film Apollo 13, and then again shortly after I saw the excellent HBO miniseries, From the Earth to the Moon. I found his steely-eyed, take-no-bull, calm and collected attitude, portrayed by Ed Harris in Apollo 13 and Dan Butler in the HBO series, to be an integral part of the NASA equation. So when this book, Failure is Not an Option, came up as a daily deal from Audible, I jumped on it. I couldn’t have made a better decision. This book is a personal memoir of Kranz, following his career at Nasa through the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. The beginning of the book is a bit awkward, as it starts out immediately with the Mercury program, then provides an entire section on his own background, qualifications and training, then resumes with Gemini. It is a bit jarring at the point where you read it, but once you’re past it, you don’t think of it again. The thing I like the best about this book is how it is not just effusive praise of the astronauts. This by no means diminishes their contribution, but Kranz seems to go out of his way to hammer into your head that everything was a team effort, and there were more people than you could possibly imagine who, working together, raced against the Russians to put a man on the moon. At one point, he says, “Chances are, you’ve never heard of Hal Beck.” This is just one of the many times he goes out of his way to describe the individuals who contributed to his team, praising their worth, their contribution and their ability. Kranz seems selfless to a fault. He says, “I think everyone, once in his life should be given a ticker-tape parade.” I have a feeling the statuary of his controllers are polished with a little extra shine, but you can tell that he is the type of man who wants to make sure that everyone gets recognized. He jokes about how Alan Shepard says, “More people remember that I’m the guy who hit a golf ball on the moon, than that I was the first American in space.” Shift that back a few levels, and try to name any of the Flight Directors other than Kranz, or CAPCOMs that were not former astronauts, and you can see how he wants to make sure people don’t get forgotten. And that’s the beauty of the book. It’s not about the astronauts; it’s about the people at Mission Control. The full name of the book is “Failure is not an Option: Mission Control From Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond,” and it is absolutely a recounting of the people who make up Mission Control - not the engineers who built the spacecraft, and not the astronauts who flew it - but the people who solved the problems mid-flight and kept everything together. When talking about how his flight director colors were retired, he says the retirement proclamation is “written by one’s peers, the only people who matter in our business.” And problems there were, in spades. Apollo 13 stands out as one of the most celebrated successes pulled from the ashes of failure, but there were many other problems as well. All three Apollo 1 astronauts died before ever leaving the ground. Apollo 11 missed its landing zone by a large margin. Apollo 12 was struck by lightning before it ever left Earth’s atmosphere. It seems every mission had something that went wrong, and the Mission Control people worked the problems and fixed them with incredible efficiency. This book is THEIR story. And it’s a fascinating one. The book was written in 1999, and as such mentions the Challenger disaster, but was well before the Columbia disaster. It also is well before the privatization of space exploration, and the wonderful things being done by SpaceX. I would love to hear what he says about SpaceX, especially as the Afterword laments the current (1999) state of NASA and the country’s commitment to space exploration. Audiobook note: The audiobook was very nicely narrated by Danny Campbell, who does a nice job of making it sound like he knows and believes the technical jargon sprinkled copiously throughout the book. The only negative is his rather poor British accent, which is thankfully kept to a minimum.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lance

    I had high expectations for this book and was listening to the audio version but unfortunately it just got to be too boring. It just didn’t have the same drama for me as other space books did.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ken

    I am a major fan of America's space program, especially the years we went to the moon. I've watched the TM shows and the movies and now I've listened to Gene Kranz's book. Comparing, I find the book is more complete. I enjoyed hearing about missions that didn't get a show, like the unmanned flights. Astronauts get the ticker tape parades and mission control teams prepared future missions. It was an interesting perspective from the flight control console. Kranz outlined how the first American in I am a major fan of America's space program, especially the years we went to the moon. I've watched the TM shows and the movies and now I've listened to Gene Kranz's book. Comparing, I find the book is more complete. I enjoyed hearing about missions that didn't get a show, like the unmanned flights. Astronauts get the ticker tape parades and mission control teams prepared future missions. It was an interesting perspective from the flight control console. Kranz outlined how the first American in space was such a short mission, only one team was needed in mission control. Each mission doubled in length, until more teams were needed. Handling of shifts and teams who covered major events in a mission were interesting items. The epilogue was bittersweet as he exhorted Americans to return the space program to the gung-ho, explore the universe attitude we had, when we went to the moon. I agree, to a point, but I know it can't happen the same way, these days. We aren't the underdogs in space. We don't have a young, charismatic president setting a laudable goal and then being martyred, as Kennedy was. Even all those factors brought into today's political environment, and the economic situation may not be enough to put the space program high enough on the national priority list to get another big goal accomplished, the way it was, back in 1969.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    Impossible to give a 'proper' rating for this book. If I was to be utterly brutal and honest I would rate it 3 stars. A decent, if slightly pedestrian account of Mission Control. Kranz gives us all the numbers and facts but it lacks the 'humanity' of a more intimate account. But. I sat up and watched that grainy black and white film as Neil Armstrong climbed down the ladder to take his first step. I listened to the reports of Apollo 13 as they were relayed (in school- the only time we were ever Impossible to give a 'proper' rating for this book. If I was to be utterly brutal and honest I would rate it 3 stars. A decent, if slightly pedestrian account of Mission Control. Kranz gives us all the numbers and facts but it lacks the 'humanity' of a more intimate account. But. I sat up and watched that grainy black and white film as Neil Armstrong climbed down the ladder to take his first step. I listened to the reports of Apollo 13 as they were relayed (in school- the only time we were ever allowed a radio in class and only because I was so insistent) I watched it all and dreamed. How could I not give this five stars. It is part of my past, my hopes and aspirations. A book that reminds me of an era when we all looked to the stars and knew it was going to be great.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    This is "inside baseball" for NASA fans. It is like a diary full of details that aren't really tied together into a coherent theme. The title is "Failure is not an option" but the author describes the space program failing spectacularly an awful lot "from Mercury to Apollo 13" so there's a big picture missing that I would have hoped for. This is "inside baseball" for NASA fans. It is like a diary full of details that aren't really tied together into a coherent theme. The title is "Failure is not an option" but the author describes the space program failing spectacularly an awful lot "from Mercury to Apollo 13" so there's a big picture missing that I would have hoped for.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Addy

    It should be easy to get swept up in this story of the exhilarating start to the space program. But for me, it was a little difficult to completely get invested, as Kranz’s writing was incredibly technical when it came to the inner workings of the different space crafts. Though on a surface level I could grasp the moments when a mission was in peril or when things were going smoothly, I felt left out of a close knit boy’s club. Though for the most part, this was a pretty bland read for me, there It should be easy to get swept up in this story of the exhilarating start to the space program. But for me, it was a little difficult to completely get invested, as Kranz’s writing was incredibly technical when it came to the inner workings of the different space crafts. Though on a surface level I could grasp the moments when a mission was in peril or when things were going smoothly, I felt left out of a close knit boy’s club. Though for the most part, this was a pretty bland read for me, there were some really poignant images that this former flight director could conjure up. A lone flight controller walking through the empty MCC hallway before coordinating the moon landing. The last astronauts to walk on the moon laying a commemorative plaque to mark the end of an era. When the technical jargon is stripped away, the simplistic style of Kranz’s writing really shines. I didn’t really get into this book, but it wasn’t a terrible read, if that makes sense. Maybe it deserves a re-read in the future. Maybe not. This was such a middle of the road read for me, I formed no strong opinions about it one way or another.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Chris Young

    I gave this five stars because I’m a space junky, and I salivate over anything that has to do with the American Space program. For those not so interested, this is still a four star read. Kranz effectively helped create America's space exploratory program from scratch. When he arrived at NASA in 1963, he had no guidance. There was no memo awaiting his arrival on his desk to walk him through what to do. In short, as a budding "Flight Director" (The guy in ultimately in charge of the mission) he h I gave this five stars because I’m a space junky, and I salivate over anything that has to do with the American Space program. For those not so interested, this is still a four star read. Kranz effectively helped create America's space exploratory program from scratch. When he arrived at NASA in 1963, he had no guidance. There was no memo awaiting his arrival on his desk to walk him through what to do. In short, as a budding "Flight Director" (The guy in ultimately in charge of the mission) he had to create a program of endless countdown “Go Nogo” checklists and procedures out of nothing with no one else to count on but himself. With that said, that he and his team of brainy 20-somethings managed to steer our country’s highly complex (Mercury, Gemini and Apollo) space exploratory efforts thorough the missions they did (while doing much of the necessary trajectory math by HAND!) in the 1960's with minimal human casualties is nothing short of miraculous. In such an exciting time in this country's history, Kranz was smack in the middle coordinating it all, (while the astronauts got the glory.) He is, perhaps, one of the most spell binding American heroes out there that the general population will never know about. Highly, highly recommend...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Simmons

    Such a fascinating subject... written about in a distinctly non-fascinating way. I’ve been slogging through this for ages, but every time I felt like giving up and tossing it aside, the book’s title would taunt me to continue. Glad to be done at last, a bit older but not much the wiser.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Lucking

    I enjoyed other books about the Apollo space program better (Jim Lovell's for Apollo 13, Rocket Men for Apollo 8, A Man on the Moon for the whole Apollo program), but learned quite a bit about the Mercury and Gemini programs since I have yet to read books on these years. I didn't quite care for the author's (Kranz's) writing tone. The narration was ok, but nothing spectacular. I enjoyed other books about the Apollo space program better (Jim Lovell's for Apollo 13, Rocket Men for Apollo 8, A Man on the Moon for the whole Apollo program), but learned quite a bit about the Mercury and Gemini programs since I have yet to read books on these years. I didn't quite care for the author's (Kranz's) writing tone. The narration was ok, but nothing spectacular.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lennie

    In this memoir, Gene Kranz describes his career working at NASA during the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions. As the flight director of the Mission Control Center, he faced risks, had to work problems as they happened, and had to make some irreversible decisions but he had a strong work ethic and built a solid foundation of qualities that included trust, values, and teamwork. It was his job to spread morale among his workers and a sense of belief in the mission, the team, and themselves becau In this memoir, Gene Kranz describes his career working at NASA during the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions. As the flight director of the Mission Control Center, he faced risks, had to work problems as they happened, and had to make some irreversible decisions but he had a strong work ethic and built a solid foundation of qualities that included trust, values, and teamwork. It was his job to spread morale among his workers and a sense of belief in the mission, the team, and themselves because that was going to be the key to their success. More importantly, he lived by the creed, “Failure is not an option” (hence the title of this book) As a result, he had the privilege of leading the team that would take the first Americans to the moon. I have always been fascinated with the history of space exploration and have read several biographies on astronauts so it was a nice change of pace to read a memoir of someone who had worked on the “ground” during this time as history was being made. This book has inspired me to want to travel to Houston and visit the Johnson Space Center. Better yet, I would love the chance to be in the Mission Control Center and sit next to the flight director as he/she leans into the mike and says, “Capcom, we are go for launch!”

  23. 4 out of 5

    Chris Cutler

    Somehow I thought I had already reviewed this one. Kranz's memoirs give us a play-by-play of each mission he was involved with in the Mercury and Apollo programs. I learned a great deal about the early space program and gained a lot of respect for those who were involved. His comments about other current events reminded me that the push for the moon did not happen in isolation, but amid the other dramatic events of the cold war including Vietnam and the JFK assassination. I appreciated that hist Somehow I thought I had already reviewed this one. Kranz's memoirs give us a play-by-play of each mission he was involved with in the Mercury and Apollo programs. I learned a great deal about the early space program and gained a lot of respect for those who were involved. His comments about other current events reminded me that the push for the moon did not happen in isolation, but amid the other dramatic events of the cold war including Vietnam and the JFK assassination. I appreciated that historical color amid the technical nail-biters of missions, which nearly all of them were. I'm glad I'd seen Apollo 13, and also heard a talk by Jim Lovell about that flight, to add to the description Kranz gives from ground control. That helped me to visualize not only that mission, but those that preceded and followed it as well. One thing I hadn't understood was the extent to which the space program had to invent infrastructure for its own support, such as transcontinental and transoceanic communications. Those people were impressive problem solvers working with very little. They really did start from scratch. Kranz also describes some of the early Soviet missions, contemporary with Mercury. I appreciated that context, and I wish he had continued this accounting through the Apollo era as well.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    An amazing story of a life of a man who made more achievements than any of us could dream of. My first knowledge of Gene Kranz was from the Apollo 13 film and when I saw he'd had written his autobiography, i was intrigued as to his part in it. From reading through the book you can see that without people like Gene and his team the Gemini, Apollo and the Shuttle wouldn't have happened. The book covers his whole career from his time in the military, commercial industry and into the world of NASA. Fo An amazing story of a life of a man who made more achievements than any of us could dream of. My first knowledge of Gene Kranz was from the Apollo 13 film and when I saw he'd had written his autobiography, i was intrigued as to his part in it. From reading through the book you can see that without people like Gene and his team the Gemini, Apollo and the Shuttle wouldn't have happened. The book covers his whole career from his time in the military, commercial industry and into the world of NASA. Following Gemini, Apollo and Shuttle programmes. As with all things in life, the people at the front in this case the astronauts get all the credit and while they were great people, enough credit isn't given to the people who made it all possible. The one thing this book gave me, was the understanding, that so many things are possible given the right determination to succeed. The leadership, processes and drive that Gene inspired in his team and his drive to perfection are an education to all of us who want to move forward in our lives. I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in leadership, determination, the space programme and NASA.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Johnston

    What a guy Gene Kranz is. It is truly amazing what these guys did to put people on the Moon. They essentially started with nothing and extremely basic technology in the late 50s, and built up a massive operation resulting in landing on the Moon in 1969. If you want an overview of the entire space race, this is your book. It follows Kranz showing up in Cape Canaveral at the beginning of Mercury, when there was almost nothing there, through Gemini and Apollo. You learn all the players from NASA to What a guy Gene Kranz is. It is truly amazing what these guys did to put people on the Moon. They essentially started with nothing and extremely basic technology in the late 50s, and built up a massive operation resulting in landing on the Moon in 1969. If you want an overview of the entire space race, this is your book. It follows Kranz showing up in Cape Canaveral at the beginning of Mercury, when there was almost nothing there, through Gemini and Apollo. You learn all the players from NASA top brass, to ground control and the astronauts, the main point of view being from the control center, pretty much taking you mission-by-mission. He had a huge role in pioneering the way missions are run in general. It was fascinating to learn how well each controller had to know the spacecraft and all the systems in it (they would normally have no more than 20 seconds from the initial recognition of a problem through decision on what to do about it). You get decently good science on everything too, though not incredibly doused in it. A fast read for the size of book, and an essential if you are reading up on the space race age.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Brad Wheeler

    Fun stuff. A different perspective on the American space program than I'd read before. Since it's an autobiography, it's necessarily biased and selective in what it covers, but it makes a grand companion book to a more general history like, say, Andrew Chaikin's A Man on the Moon. I don't think I'll ever be as good at anything as the people in mission control were at their jobs. Also, there's some embarrassing mispronunciations on the part of the audiobook narrator. "Delta five" instead of "delta Fun stuff. A different perspective on the American space program than I'd read before. Since it's an autobiography, it's necessarily biased and selective in what it covers, but it makes a grand companion book to a more general history like, say, Andrew Chaikin's A Man on the Moon. I don't think I'll ever be as good at anything as the people in mission control were at their jobs. Also, there's some embarrassing mispronunciations on the part of the audiobook narrator. "Delta five" instead of "delta vee" where the text read "delta V", for instance. Not a huge deal. Overall, recommended.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Schwartz

    A bit of a different perspective on the Apollo, Mercury and Gemini missions. I still prefer Andrew Chaikin's, "a man on the moon". One thing I have to comment on, I listened to this as an audiobook. There is one glaring error in the audio rendering of this book, at least on audible. The term for the guidance officer is pronounced GUIDE-OH, and not "guido" Which may, to some people be considered offensive. I am surprised nobody caught this before was released. It occurs over and over again in the A bit of a different perspective on the Apollo, Mercury and Gemini missions. I still prefer Andrew Chaikin's, "a man on the moon". One thing I have to comment on, I listened to this as an audiobook. There is one glaring error in the audio rendering of this book, at least on audible. The term for the guidance officer is pronounced GUIDE-OH, and not "guido" Which may, to some people be considered offensive. I am surprised nobody caught this before was released. It occurs over and over again in the book. I am also surprised someone at the authors of reverence for his faith. I find it hard to reconcile and so involved in a scientific pursuit to be able to believe so fervently in Bronze Age superstition and myth. I'm sure some will disagree, but it just seemed out of place in this book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chad Sayban

    A really good overview of what went on at Mission Control during the birth of America's manned space program. Kranz is somewhat clinical in his descriptions and you won't find any dirty secrets or revelations. He also gets preachy about what he perceives as a lack of willingness to continue manned space flight by leadership without giving any justification beyond planting flags. In spite of this, Failure Is Not an Option will provide anyone who didn't live through the time period a lens into wha A really good overview of what went on at Mission Control during the birth of America's manned space program. Kranz is somewhat clinical in his descriptions and you won't find any dirty secrets or revelations. He also gets preachy about what he perceives as a lack of willingness to continue manned space flight by leadership without giving any justification beyond planting flags. In spite of this, Failure Is Not an Option will provide anyone who didn't live through the time period a lens into what it was like and just how bare-bones the materials NASA was working with were. Although not as dramatic as the movies, it is thorough and well written. Definitely worth reading if you have any interest in space exploration.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    I'm sorry I can't say that I loved this book. I wanted to, but it was just too detail oriented for me. I did however, find it informative and because I will forever be amazed at the story of the Apollo 13 mission I wanted to read this book and am glad that I did. I have decided that the astronaut program is full of interesting people. Very dedicated and hardworking. Miracles can happen when people live that way, just as they did during The years of the Apollo missions. Perhaps not the most inter I'm sorry I can't say that I loved this book. I wanted to, but it was just too detail oriented for me. I did however, find it informative and because I will forever be amazed at the story of the Apollo 13 mission I wanted to read this book and am glad that I did. I have decided that the astronaut program is full of interesting people. Very dedicated and hardworking. Miracles can happen when people live that way, just as they did during The years of the Apollo missions. Perhaps not the most interesting read, but it does give you insight and knowledge into the history of the astronaut program.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kipi

    I am a space junkie. Two of my favorite movies are Apollo 13 and The Right Stuff. It only made sense to read Gene Kranz's book. I enjoyed reading his history and his perspective of the history of NASA, but he is a technology guy, and his writing is a little too technical for me. I read this one just after I read Jim Lovell's book, Lost Moon, and Lovell's book is SO readable that it made this one just that much more difficult. I will probably put this one back on the "to-read" list some day and g I am a space junkie. Two of my favorite movies are Apollo 13 and The Right Stuff. It only made sense to read Gene Kranz's book. I enjoyed reading his history and his perspective of the history of NASA, but he is a technology guy, and his writing is a little too technical for me. I read this one just after I read Jim Lovell's book, Lost Moon, and Lovell's book is SO readable that it made this one just that much more difficult. I will probably put this one back on the "to-read" list some day and give it another go. It is good, just too techno-detailed for me.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.