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Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut Paperback – 3 Feb 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd; Reprint edition (3 Feb. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743276833
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743276832
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.8 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 142,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"Funny, harrowing, tragic..."Riding Rockets" is a thrill, from start to finish." -- "St. Louis Post-Dispatch"

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By pagh on 3 May 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've been waiting for this book since I was a kid watching the first landing on the Moon on TV. It is something completely different from what I read till now about the space program. To say that Mike Mullane is the Bill Bryson of space travel is to underestimate him. You will not only appreciate the story, the inside view on the US space program (including the permanent mismanagement). You will also learn about a real dream love: the one with his wife, Donna. What is really outstanding in Mike is the chase for the "ultimate honesty". He constantly refuse the "politically correct" approach and goes straigth to the core of our relations to space travels, dreams, technology, relation with... women, with his boss and with... the girl of his dream, in this case another Astronaut tragically dead in the Challenger accident. The last pages in particular are surprisingly good and poetic. I would never expect something like that from a funny book like this.

Thanks, Mike, for your honesty.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Thomas on 20 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
As a self confessed space nut I try to read as much about the various space programmes as possible. Unfortunatley I was beginning to read books that pretty much repeated what I had just read making the task of reading about the programmes tedious. So when I was browsing the space section in my local book shop I saw this book. I realised that I was relatively naive about the shuttle programme seeing as it had become seen as routine by the time that I got interested in the space programmes. I decided to buy it and read it to give me a break from all the Apollo era books that are available. I'm so glad that I did. The book deals almost exclusively with the astronaut portion of the authors career with only a few trips back to his childhood and formative years. The author has only included these parts where necessary and therefore gives real depth and resonance to the story that is being told. I absolutely demolished this book and was suprised to realise that I had read it in a week. It does not read like a traditional autobiography, I would best describe it like being sat on the floor listening to your grand-parents talking about their past experiences when you were younger. The way that Mike Mullane kept my attention was very reminicent of these memories. It reads so easily that it captivated me immediatley.

The book covers really some 15 years of Mike Mullane's career and throughout which covers some big moments that I was not aware of (the damage to the shuttle at launch that was being ignored was particularly shocking)some of which lead to the destruction of Challenger and Columbia.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By aster girl on 17 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
If you enjoy reading NASA's stories of manned space exploration that are primarily focused on the Apollo program hopefully you will also enjoy this book which will give you an insight from the point of view of one man's personal experiences inside NASA during the 70s,80s and early 90s.
It gives fascinating detail of how the astronauts cope with daily routines that on earth are relatively simple to achieve but became a different matter inside the space shuttle. The book does not give a large amount of information on the technical layout or functions of the shuttle or even for the astronauts' training program, but it is very entertaining, easy to read and actually gives an idea of what it was like for an exclusively male's world to have to cope with the introduction and intergration of women to their workplace-space.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By John Boyes on 4 Sept. 2006
Format: Hardcover
There are a good number of astronaut biographies available. Inevitably there is fair amount of repetition sometimes straying towards telling you what SHOULD have happened rather than what DID happen. But Mike's book is different. This is the story of what it's all about being an astronaut: nuts and bolts, human weaknesses, bureaucracy, chauvanism, fear, elation, reality. But above all the need to fly into space. If you were to read only one astronaut biography, then this should be it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Smith on 2 Aug. 2013
Format: Paperback
It's not about an astronaut, but alot more. Mike's opening gambit of an enema to produce "dazzling pipes" for astronaut selection shows someone so singularly focussed to do whatever it takes to be successful, that I read on. From life in the Mullane household, early military life and then fast forward to NASA, I too shared Mike's adventure and dream to get into space.

Brontë, Mike's book is NOT. The language ranges from crude `Merican schoolboy, to political incorrectness/AD and inner stream of consciousness of a locker room e.g. Viet pilot, "Better Dead than Look Bad", scepticism of female astronauts, passengers, etc. yet times eventually catch up during Mike's transition to PC personified (East German sauna - hunter becomes the hunted) - engaging and even charming. The technical language (SRBs, ET, MECO, ATL, etc.) is easily absorbed.

Like Shakespeare, important characters are offstage, such as omnipotent George Abbey or Donna and, call me a romantic, but it seems that Mike's all-consuming dream becomes Donna's as she raises the family. Through physical aspects, such as liaisons with Donna show the human side of astronauts and seizing possible final moments. We also picture the other astronauts as we share the minutiae of comradeship, smells, intimacy and reality of space preparation.

The book shows the emotional rollercoaster, with fear and frustration as close cousins. We witness Mike going from hero (when times are good) to zero (passed over or mission aborted, like a rejected bridesmaid) and the emotional drain upon the families. Just as demanding seem to be the physical toll e.g. medical, kit tests, Gs, the Vomit Comet, etc.
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