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Go, Flight!: The Unsung Heroes of Mission Control, 1965–1992

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At first glance, it looks like just another auditorium in just another government building. But among the talented men (and later women) who worked in mission control, the room located on the third floor of Building 30—at what is now Johnson Space Center—would become known by many as “The Cathedral.” These members of the space program were the brightest of their generation At first glance, it looks like just another auditorium in just another government building. But among the talented men (and later women) who worked in mission control, the room located on the third floor of Building 30—at what is now Johnson Space Center—would become known by many as “The Cathedral.” These members of the space program were the brightest of their generations, making split-second decisions that determined the success or failure of a mission. The flight controllers, each supported by a staff of specialists, were the most visible part of the operation, running the missions, talking to the heavens, troubleshooting issues on board, and, ultimately, attempting to bring everyone safely back home. None of NASA’s storied accomplishments would have been possible without these people. Interviews with dozens of individuals who worked in the historic third-floor mission control room bring the compelling stories to life. Go, Flight! is a real-world reminder of where we have been and where we could go again given the right political and social climate.


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At first glance, it looks like just another auditorium in just another government building. But among the talented men (and later women) who worked in mission control, the room located on the third floor of Building 30—at what is now Johnson Space Center—would become known by many as “The Cathedral.” These members of the space program were the brightest of their generation At first glance, it looks like just another auditorium in just another government building. But among the talented men (and later women) who worked in mission control, the room located on the third floor of Building 30—at what is now Johnson Space Center—would become known by many as “The Cathedral.” These members of the space program were the brightest of their generations, making split-second decisions that determined the success or failure of a mission. The flight controllers, each supported by a staff of specialists, were the most visible part of the operation, running the missions, talking to the heavens, troubleshooting issues on board, and, ultimately, attempting to bring everyone safely back home. None of NASA’s storied accomplishments would have been possible without these people. Interviews with dozens of individuals who worked in the historic third-floor mission control room bring the compelling stories to life. Go, Flight! is a real-world reminder of where we have been and where we could go again given the right political and social climate.

30 review for Go, Flight!: The Unsung Heroes of Mission Control, 1965–1992

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I received a free copy of this e-book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for a review. If you liked the biographies of Chris Kraft and Gene Kranz, you will love this book. The book attempts to tell the stories of the people who were part of Mission Control, but were never featured in a book or movie. You will get to hear from some of the more recognized MC guys like Glenn Lunney, Sy Liebergot and John Aaron; but you will also get to know more of the others who were there as well. The I received a free copy of this e-book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for a review. If you liked the biographies of Chris Kraft and Gene Kranz, you will love this book. The book attempts to tell the stories of the people who were part of Mission Control, but were never featured in a book or movie. You will get to hear from some of the more recognized MC guys like Glenn Lunney, Sy Liebergot and John Aaron; but you will also get to know more of the others who were there as well. The authors do a good job at trying to include the stories of as many of these people as possible. You really get a feel for how the whole MC group was a team, how everyone worked together and how MC was run successfully. The main narrative of the book follows the Gemini and Apollo missions controlled from Houston. Looking at some of these missions from the perspective of the MC really changes how you view some of these missions. The book naturally covers the Apollo 13 mission with a lot of detail. Reading this section was extremely interesting. I got chills a few times during this part, and then I had to immediately watch the Apollo 13 movie again. The book also gives you the story from inside MC during the final launch of Challenger. This part is very emotional, and you can just feel the emotions in that room as you read. I might have given this a four star rating because several of the chapters were not organized very well. They were still readable, but the lack of organization was a bit annoying. I went with 5 stars because it was an amazing read and an important new work to add to the Spaceflight bookshelf. Overall, I’m very glad this story was written. As is noted in the book, several of the people featured in this book have passed away. I think it is incredibly important to record who they were and what they did to contribute. While the book doesn’t cover everyone that worked in MC, it tells enough of the group’s story that you leave with tremendous respect for anyone who was a part of it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Graeme Ing

    Other than Mr. Kranz's autobiography, this is by far the best account I've read of Mission Control in Houston. From the start of Mercury through to the shuttle era, this book is chock full of personal stories, accurate recollections from dozens of flight controllers, and transcripts of official tapes. Every mission in detail, along with the stories of almost every controller. There probably is no better recorded history of those times in manned space flight. If you are an Apollo era space nut, an Other than Mr. Kranz's autobiography, this is by far the best account I've read of Mission Control in Houston. From the start of Mercury through to the shuttle era, this book is chock full of personal stories, accurate recollections from dozens of flight controllers, and transcripts of official tapes. Every mission in detail, along with the stories of almost every controller. There probably is no better recorded history of those times in manned space flight. If you are an Apollo era space nut, and love to read about the incredible job performed in the MOCR on every mission; or if you romanticize about bring a flight controller; or you want the rarely heard details of every little system aboard the spacecraft and how every problem was solved - this is absolutely the book for you. A fabulous read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    Disclaimer: Rick Houston and I have been best friends since high school. However, my comments are independent of that relationship. Rick's writing not only gives facts, but it relates the humanity behind the subject and Milt Heflin's contributions add to the authenticity. I honestly feel that I could meet John Aaron, Glenn Lunney, Ed Fendell or Bill Moon and converse with them as I had known them for years. If you have any interest in the space program, you should check this book out! Disclaimer: Rick Houston and I have been best friends since high school. However, my comments are independent of that relationship. Rick's writing not only gives facts, but it relates the humanity behind the subject and Milt Heflin's contributions add to the authenticity. I honestly feel that I could meet John Aaron, Glenn Lunney, Ed Fendell or Bill Moon and converse with them as I had known them for years. If you have any interest in the space program, you should check this book out!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cloak88

    A spaceflight history from mission control 3.5 stars (Audiobook review) This is an amazingly interesting history of NASA spaceflight from the view as a mission controller on the ground. It gives an insiders view into the small and big things that made spaceflight possible in the early days. The dedication, obsession and determination of the people working at NASA to accomplish their goals, are truly inspiring. Having said that this edition, or more specifically the audio edition was not the best A spaceflight history from mission control 3.5 stars (Audiobook review) This is an amazingly interesting history of NASA spaceflight from the view as a mission controller on the ground. It gives an insiders view into the small and big things that made spaceflight possible in the early days. The dedication, obsession and determination of the people working at NASA to accomplish their goals, are truly inspiring. Having said that this edition, or more specifically the audio edition was not the best way to present it in. The flood of names, description and places at the start of the book bogged down the flow significantly. Even though it was interesting, I kept loosing track of things and this distracted form my experience. A good book, but it is better read, than listened to.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kristine

    As a former ISS flight controller, I was very excited to read this book. I worked many missions from the “back room” and believed I would identify strongly with the themes and stories recounted in this book. I am happy the unsung heroes received their due credit in this book, but the paragraphs and paragraphs of purely names quickly became tiring. I hoped for the different perspectives of several flight controller positions throughout the early human spaceflight missions, and there are some stor As a former ISS flight controller, I was very excited to read this book. I worked many missions from the “back room” and believed I would identify strongly with the themes and stories recounted in this book. I am happy the unsung heroes received their due credit in this book, but the paragraphs and paragraphs of purely names quickly became tiring. I hoped for the different perspectives of several flight controller positions throughout the early human spaceflight missions, and there are some stories to that effect. However, the main content of the book is the bigger picture story of the events, which I was already very, very familiar with. I understand the need to balance the bigger picture with the details of each flight controller’s perspective, but I finished the book really missing those different perspectives and accounts of personal experiences.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Prillaman

    Mr Kraft's memoir suffered from being my first read following Michael Collins' superb "Carrying the Fire." However, Kraft and co-author James Schefter wrote an engaging narrative of what it was like to create the first manned space program. Kraft's story sheds light on the politics and management of NASA during the 1950s and 1960s, and creates a picture of a no-nonsense leader who cared about his remit and the people who helped make manned space flight a reality. Well worth the read, if only to g Mr Kraft's memoir suffered from being my first read following Michael Collins' superb "Carrying the Fire." However, Kraft and co-author James Schefter wrote an engaging narrative of what it was like to create the first manned space program. Kraft's story sheds light on the politics and management of NASA during the 1950s and 1960s, and creates a picture of a no-nonsense leader who cared about his remit and the people who helped make manned space flight a reality. Well worth the read, if only to get a perspective from behind the consoles rather than in the spacecraft.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Generally a very good book for those interested in and with some prior knowledge of the space program. I would not recommend this book as anyone's first book pertaining to the space program. Chapter 1 was relatively dull but I promise it does get better. There is a good chunk industry jargon in the book and lots of acronyms. Very early on I started keeping a note book with all of these written down. You will run into places later where they reference only the acronym and it would be very difficul Generally a very good book for those interested in and with some prior knowledge of the space program. I would not recommend this book as anyone's first book pertaining to the space program. Chapter 1 was relatively dull but I promise it does get better. There is a good chunk industry jargon in the book and lots of acronyms. Very early on I started keeping a note book with all of these written down. You will run into places later where they reference only the acronym and it would be very difficult to go back to find the spot where they defined it for you.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Paul moved to LibraryThing

    Wonderful period of time to write about but the language used by authors is way too religious. Their approach is so reverent it's just hard to read with a straight face. I know the authors are genuine in their respect but the language verges on parody and their uncritical reporting of the stories leaves much to be desired as an attempt at historical record of anything. I want to read about the facts and think "this is awesome". I don't want to read "this is awesome, praise the Lord" and wonder ho Wonderful period of time to write about but the language used by authors is way too religious. Their approach is so reverent it's just hard to read with a straight face. I know the authors are genuine in their respect but the language verges on parody and their uncritical reporting of the stories leaves much to be desired as an attempt at historical record of anything. I want to read about the facts and think "this is awesome". I don't want to read "this is awesome, praise the Lord" and wonder how rose-tinted your reporting is.

  9. 5 out of 5

    David Bignault

    If you followed the space program in the 60’s and 70’s this is a great book for you to read. Learning the ins and outs of Mission Control gives a new perspective of the massive effort to get men to the moon. I was always in awe of the mission controllers and even sat in the mission controlled room in 2010. Reading this both out right there with the guys and helped me bring back the memories of those thrilling times so long ago.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sam Eeles

    Loved it - great to read about the people behind the scenes of Mission Control. Having read Gene Kranz's biography and Andrew Chaikin's 'A Man on the Moon', it was nice to read about familiar and not so familiar names. The beginning couple of chapters took a bit of work to get through and it improves a lot from there. Loved it - great to read about the people behind the scenes of Mission Control. Having read Gene Kranz's biography and Andrew Chaikin's 'A Man on the Moon', it was nice to read about familiar and not so familiar names. The beginning couple of chapters took a bit of work to get through and it improves a lot from there.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Great book, these are the guys who really got us to the moon. If life hadn’t gotten so busy I easy could have devoured the book over a weekend, I also didn’t want to fly through it since I wanted to let things sink in and really think about all the things these guys accomplished.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dan Carey

    Nothing against this book, but if you're going to invest the time (and haven't already read it), go for Gene Krantz's Failure Is Not An Option for a close-up view of how things worked in Mission Control back in the day. Nothing against this book, but if you're going to invest the time (and haven't already read it), go for Gene Krantz's Failure Is Not An Option for a close-up view of how things worked in Mission Control back in the day.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    This book was a perfectly fine read. The first chapter could have been very interesting, but would have benefited from a visual map of mission control as they worked through each of the roles to give a better feel for the room as a whole. Shocking that there were no women at all for so long.

  14. 4 out of 5

    James Cubitt

    Hidden Gems Surely the makings of a good many Boys Own style of stories. Anyone interested in the American Space Program needs to understand the backup side of the story and this book tells it in spades. Wonderful stuff

  15. 4 out of 5

    Todd A Voge

    Excellent story As an avid space buff, I found myself mesmerized by the stories told here. These are the guys who put men on the moon and got them home. The background of these people is so great to read about. They literally wrote the book on how to manage in stressful times.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michael Ellis

    Anyone interested in space - this is for you

  17. 4 out of 5

    Library Ghost

    Interesting read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Daryl Pratho

    I missed my calling as a mission controller, what a cool book and a cool career!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Brian Page

    GO FLIGHT: THE UNSUNG HEROES OF MISSION CONTROL, 1965 – 1992, is a story that well deserves being told even if this account does not necessarily tell it well. The writing is a bit awkward at times. At one particularly abrupt page transition I even double-checked the page numbers to see if a signature had escaped binding. For much of the first portion the account nearly descends into being nothing more than a litany of pissing contests between Mission Control and, well, every other organization. GO FLIGHT: THE UNSUNG HEROES OF MISSION CONTROL, 1965 – 1992, is a story that well deserves being told even if this account does not necessarily tell it well. The writing is a bit awkward at times. At one particularly abrupt page transition I even double-checked the page numbers to see if a signature had escaped binding. For much of the first portion the account nearly descends into being nothing more than a litany of pissing contests between Mission Control and, well, every other organization. If that’s a true reflection of the heroes who took us to the moon, then they have lost a bit of sheen in my eyes. The story improves as the account progresses, and probably as the territorial disputes are resolved. While it may be an imperfect work, it is still a valuable contribution to the history of Apollo; and the final chapter is amazing as it tallies the personal costs made by these extraordinarily dedicated flight controllers who sacrificed so much to sit at their consoles in Mission Control.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    This is a really well done personal history of the group that established the traditions of flight control in Houston's Mission Control. The book is compelling and crisply-written and captures the culture and the feel of working and operating in Building 30. It's a well-told story that deserves its place in the narrative of that amazing period. Bravo! This is a really well done personal history of the group that established the traditions of flight control in Houston's Mission Control. The book is compelling and crisply-written and captures the culture and the feel of working and operating in Building 30. It's a well-told story that deserves its place in the narrative of that amazing period. Bravo!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lacey

    Any time I read something about NASA, it makes me remember why it was my dream job to work there. Someday...

  22. 4 out of 5

    Vance J.

    A good review of the tough work done by the mission control team supporting the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions. I have a much better feel for the organization and demands of the job.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Hanna Collins

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brandon

  26. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Slagle

  27. 4 out of 5

    HenryUTA

  28. 4 out of 5

    Simon

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Ray

  30. 5 out of 5

    Drew W.

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