Flight: My Life in Mission Control Hardcover – 1 Mar 2001
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Flight: My Life in Mission Control is the feisty memoir of Chris Kraft, head of mission control ground crew on the famous Eagle mission of 1969. On July 20, 1969, near the end of a great decade of near-space exploration, a small craft called Eagle landed on the moon's surface. As anyone who watched the televised broadcast of the landing might recall, the astronauts aboard Eagle were guided to their objective by a capable ground crew headed by Chris Kraft, whom his colleagues had long called "Flight". Kraft was unflappable on the surface, but, as he writes in this memoir, the Eagle's landing had moments of drama that gave him pause, and that few outside NASA knew about--including baleful alarms from the ship's on-board computer that warned of imminent disaster.
For Kraft, frightening moments were part of his job as director of Mission Control. He encountered many of them in the early years of the space programme, when failures were commonplace and all too often caused not by mechanics but politics. We learn of many in Kraft's pages. One such failure was the Soviet Union's Sputnik launch, on which Kraft thunders, "We should have beaten them.... We were stopped by anonymous doctors in the civilian world who didn't know what they were talking about, by a bureaucrat in the White House who'd been stung when JFK shot down his position on manned space flight, and by our friend the German rocket scientist who got cold feet when he should have been bold."
Plenty of other contemporaries, including John Glenn and Richard Nixon, come in for a scolding in Kraft's fiery account, which offers a fly-on-the-wall portrait of the challenging work of astronautics--work that, Kraft writes hopefully, is only beginning. --Gregory McNamee
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Top Customer Reviews
Surprisingly for me (given that I'm a geek!), it was the human side of most of the stories that were the most interesting. If you have any interest at all in the space race, buy this book.
My only criticism is a minor one: In the last couple of pages, where Kraft discusses how we should still be exploring and moving out (with which I totally agree), he makes constant reference to "America should do this", "American people must do that", etc. Sure - it was America who won the space race, and I do not wish to take that away from them, but the cold war is over now - mankind must move forwards as a whole from now, not just America. But I would say that, being a Brit!
Great book: buy it.
But this book is really about NASA, his guiding of the mission control center and all those who worked for him, Gene Kranz included.
If you have an interest in the Mercury, Gemini or Apollo days of NASA, read this book, because a lot of it would never of happened with out Chris Kraft
He pulls no punches - his negative evaluation of early space luminaries such as Werner Von Braun may surprise some space enthusiasts. He also describes the early political posturing in the building of NACA and NASA.
I was privileged to grow up near the space center and experience Gemini and Apollo second-hand; many of my peer's parents worked for NASA. Thank you, Dr. Kraft, for bringing the most exciting time in space travel back to life, and helping me view it through the eyes of those who made it happen!!
The book is at its best when describing the background to the earlier Mercury and Gemini missions. The details of the moon landings, when he was no longer directly in charge as flight director, are skipped over a little, and you will find a lot more detail elsewhere.
Why then only 4 stars? Well i find that Kraft perhaps tend to overlook other people and having read Krantz's book i find it a bit sad. Krantz speaks very high about Chris Kraft, sometimes emotional but Kraft returns the favour by allmost not mentioning Krantz. Chris Kraft WAS the reverend leader who laid the foundation but Gene Krantz was the #2 man who build the house(mission control)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As good as the other reviewers tell you and probably the tird best ever, behind Gene Kranz and Michael Collins.Published 8 months ago by Anthony McCulloch
A fascinating account a career at the sharp end of technology and endeavour, literally pushing forward the boundaries and 'going where no man has been before', as someone said.Published 24 months ago by J G.
I found this book very interesting when it stayed factual and told the stories of the early space program. Read morePublished on 25 Jan. 2008 by Splenda
The kind of engaging read that makes you glad that Kraft committed his memoirs to paper. His long involvement ran from the early days of NACA through the formation of NASA,... Read morePublished on 26 Feb. 2006
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