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Failure is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond [Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged] [MP3 CD]

Gene Kranz , Danny Campbell
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
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Book Description

29 Aug 2011
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.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • MP3 CD
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc; Unabridged edition (29 Aug 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1452653909
  • ISBN-13: 978-1452653907
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 13.2 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,013,650 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

In 1957, the Russians launched Sputnik and the ensuing space race. Three years later, Gene Kranz left his aircraft testing job to join NASA and champion the American cause. What he found was an embryonic department run by whizz kids (such as himself), sharp engineers and technicians who had to create the Mercury mission rules and procedures from the ground up. As he says, "Since there were no books written on the actual methodology of space flight, we had to write them as we went along".

Kranz was part of the mission control team that, in January 1961, launched a chimpanzee into space and successfully retrieved him and made Alan Shepard the first American in space in May 1961. Just two months later they launched Gus Grissom for a space orbit, John Glenn orbited Earth three times in February 1962, and in May 1963 Gordon Cooper completed the final Project Mercury launch with 22 Earth orbits. And through them all, and the many Apollo missions that followed, Gene Kranz was one of the integral inside men--one of those who bore the responsibility for the Apollo 1 tragedy and the leader of the "tiger team" that saved the Apollo 13 astronauts.

Moviegoers know Gene Kranz through Ed Harris's Oscar-nominated portrayal of him in Apollo 13, but Kranz provides a more detailed insider's perspective in his book Failure Is Not an Option. You see NASA through his eyes, from its primitive days when he first joined up, through the 1993 shuttle mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope, his last mission control project. His memoir, however, is not high literature. Kranz has many accomplishments and honours to his credit, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, but this is his first book, and he's not a polished author. There are, perhaps, more behind-the-scenes details and more paragraphs devoted to what Cape Canaveral looked like than the general public demands. If, however, you have a long-standing fascination with aeronautics, if you watched Apollo 13 and wanted more, Failure Is Not an Option will fit the bill. --Stephanie Gold --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"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" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
At some time in the hours that followed that terse announcement from Apollo 13, many of us in NASA's Mission Control Center wondered if we were going to lose the crew. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This book is a joy for anyone remotely interested in the US space program. Kranz, a key member of mission control throughout the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs talks frankly about the people and technology directly involved in man's journey to the moon. Never getting loaded with technical jargon, Kranz has blended his personality into this hi-tech story to create an accessible and heart-warming read. His account of the fire of Apollo 1 is searingly painful for it's simplicity, the excitement of being Flight Director for the Apollo 11 moon landing like a beautiful scent wafting up from the pages of this book.
How wonderful also for him to acknowledge the invaluable role played by his wife, when so many other marriages in this stressful time were failing.
I agree wholeheartedly with the reviews on the back of this book - it is a very welcome addition the lore of manned spaceflight. A must for all those interested in this topic.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating behind the scenes account 6 April 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Gene Kranz was one of the original band of NASA flight directors, some readers may remember he was played by a white waistcoat-wearing Ed Harris in the film about Apollo 13. This book is for those of us that are slightly geeky with regards to the Space Race in as far as this is a technical and detailed account of what took place in the Mission Control Room while the mission was in progress. It is not a riveting read by any stretch of the imagination but it does offer the interested reader another take Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. Gene Kranz is unashamedly patriotic and God-fearing with a slight propensity to describe almost all of his colleagues as all American heroes. Nevertheless, afficionados of this era of space exploration will find a lot in this book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally a book that puts you THERE 24 Sep 2002
By A Customer
Ive read a few books on Americas space program and ive also read a bit on Russias space program. Some have been exellent and some have been bad written rubbish thats been told the same way over and over again with the same pictures and quotes. That is until I read Failure Is Not An Option!!
This to me is the gratest book EVER written on Americas journey to the moon.
Kranz starts off with the Mercury program in deatil then onto Gemini and finally to the greatest accomplishment of all time, stepping foot on the surface of the moon. It takes you through the high's and the low's of the program and takes each mission and explians it in great detail.
Gene introduces the astronauts as they really were,not how others or the press percieved them to be. Its truly remarkable to me how he can remember in such great detail each event in turn that happend with, say the armstrong gemini flight that nearly ended in disaster or the near fateful Apollo 13 mission.
Overall this is a must for fans of the space program or even if youve just seen Apollo 13 and want to know more. Reviewers who say its technical at times, are correct but Kranz does explain what abbreviations mean as you go through each chapter.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Brilliant 28 Jun 2007
By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Eugene Kranz is an unsung hero. Maybe most people are familiar with Ed Harris's portrayal of him in Apollo 13 but the man was around from the beginning of the space programme. We've already forgetten, all too easily, what an astonishing achievement NASA completed with the space programme in terms of technology. We forget also that the staff there literally invented the rules as they went along. But apart from all the engineering and science, there is the incredible way that they stood up to the pressure not just on the Apollo 13 mission but in other situations. In the thick of it all is Eugene Kranz. These days people in the UK are stupid enough to vote Queenie and Robbie Williams as the most important Britains ever. As an antidote read this and focus on someone who deserves our admiration.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE book 1 Dec 2005
I have read a lot of books about Apollo but this is the one i keep turning back to. Gene Krantz is simply a fascinating figure and his job in Mission Control the most exiting there was - Period.... Krantz writes with the passion that is burning within every good engineer and he writes in an easily readable style, yes there are a lot of tecnical "mumbo jumbo" in the book but the story is easily understood nevertheless. If you only want to read one book about Apollo it should probably be "Apollo, the Race to the moon" by Murray/Cox but when you've read that one and gotten hooked, this one would be am obvious number two.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing life..... 4 April 2009
By Gallen
...told in an utterly absorbing fashion.One gets the impression that Kranz is aware of how fortunate a working life he has had and tells us the story of it in compelling and gripping fashion.

He has been not only present but intrinsically important to some of the most seminal moments in not only scientific but human evolution and his story is one of intrigue and a burning desire to learn and grow.

He captures the blend of adrenalin, adventure and discipline that drove the extraodinary accomplishments of the era and turns a book that I had high expectations of into a must read addition to the genre.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Failure Is Not An Option--Gene Kranz 16 Sep 2002
By A Customer
Failure Is Not An Option is definatly one of the best books that I have read on the space program. It looks at the inside of the program and the men that held the huge responsibilities of the astronauts lives and mission plans in their hands.
Gene puts you in mission control, in the spacecraft, and in his mind and the minds of other controllers during mision successes and spectacular failures such as the Apollo 1 fire and also the near miss of Apollo 13.
This book is well written, technical at times,funny at times, but a truly brilliant book written about an extraordinary time. You get an insight into what it was like to work in mission control and the stresses it involved.
I could go on and on about this book but I wont drone on.Quite simply if you are interested in the space program you HAVE to buy this book!!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
really enjoyed this audio cd was very interesting
Published 1 month ago by carol
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great story
Published 1 month ago by M. E. Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough, detailed and entertaining.
A great account from one of NASA's ex flight controllers. Covers the earliest American attempts into space through to after the Apollo program. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Dave Edmondson
3.0 out of 5 stars Christmas present for husband
Wanted it for Christmas arrived quite a lot later. Thought it was a new copy but it was in reasonable condition. My husband was very pleased with it. though.
Published 9 months ago by Mrs A Duarte
3.0 out of 5 stars Sticker stuck over price
Good book but it had been tampered with.

A large sticky label had been stuck over the original price and would not come off. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Paul Baker
5.0 out of 5 stars You want to know about the pioneers in Space?? This is the book to...
Anyone interested in the pionering of Space should have this book.A lot of explaining of how thay did it with the help of computers with less capacity then today calculators. Read more
Published 19 months ago by JOHAN J. SPRONG
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent autobiography of a legend
Kranz has written a well constructed account of his time at NASA. The pace is fast-moving, slowing to give enough detail about key events when needed. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Mr. D. Bloomfield
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book
A very interesting book which, despite the title, charts the USA space programe from Mercury to the end of Apollo. An excellent read. Read more
Published on 2 Oct 2012 by P. Merritt
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book
This was a really enjoyable read, from someone who was at the heart of the Gemini, Mercury and Apollo programs. Read more
Published on 26 Aug 2012 by James R
5.0 out of 5 stars failure is not an option
Excellent book, takes you through the American space program from the view of mission control showing the many difficulties that were overcome.
Published on 17 April 2012 by Mo
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