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Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut (2006)

Tekijä: Mike Mullane

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
5601143,067 (4.19)13
In 1978, the first group of space shuttle astronauts, 29 men and six women, were introduced to the world. USAF Colonel Mike Mullane was a member of this astronaut class, and this is his story. Mullane strips the heroic veneer from the astronaut corps and paints them as they are--human, with tales of military flyboys, feminist pioneers and post-doc scientists. He portrays every aspect of the astronaut experience, and is brutally honest in his criticism of a NASA leadership whose bungling would precipitate the Challenger disaster.--From publisher description.… (lisätietoja)
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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 11) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
Rating an autobiography is a little trickier than rating almost any other kind of book. How much of one's reaction is a reaction to the book's subject/author? In this case, I know that my three-star rating is as much a reaction to astronaut Mike Mullane as to his writing. I'm pretty sure I would not have enjoyed being on a Space Shuttle crew with him. But that said, he does exquisitely capture the excitement, anxiety, and fear that astronaut's feel while waiting for launch. He paints wonderful images of what Earth looks like from orbit. And he pulls no punches in describing the astronaut culture of the 80s and 90s. (In the last chapter, he says that apparently NASA astronauts these days are a lot more straight-arrow and 'boring'.)

So on the one hand: the writing is good. On the other, the subject/author is a challenge to like. Depending upon how you handle reading autobiographies, you may or may not enjoy this book. Unfortunately, that's as clear as I can be. ( )
  Treebeard_404 | Jan 23, 2024 |
In Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut, NASA Space Shuttle Astronaut Richard Michael “Mike” Mullane (STA-41-D, STS-27, STS-36) recounts his experiences from childhood through his time in the Air Force and NASA. Mullane was part of the NASA class of 1978 – nicknamed TFNG for “Thirty-Five New Guys” (or a less polite name in private) – which also included Sally Ride, Guion Bluford, and Ellison Onizuka, the first American woman, African American, and Asian-American in space, respectively. Mullane’s memoir holds nothing back, with his military boys’ culture recalling elements of Tom Wolfe’s account in The Right Stuff. He explains how this caused conflicts with NASA’s first class of women astronauts as the agency while also critiquing the management of NASA in the 1980s, blaming the eventual Challenger disaster and other safety oversights on management’s complacency that filtered down through all echelons of the organization. In Mullane’s view, the hype surrounding the Shuttle led to shortcuts and complacency in the name of operational status, resulting in seats opening to “part-time” astronauts in the name of publicity (pg. 206). Mullane’s extensive experience informs his conclusions. Over the course of his three flights, Mullane logged 356 hours of spaceflight in addition to his years in the Air Force. Further, his close friendship with Judy Resnick shapes his anger regarding NASA’s complacency prior to the Challenger disaster. That said, he acknowledges how the lure of flight is enough to make it all worthwhile for the astronauts themselves, despite his criticism of upper management. Mullane’s Riding Rockets will appeal to spaceflight enthusiasts, in particular those looking to learn more about the early Shuttle program and the cultural changes at NASA that surrounded it. ( )
  DarthDeverell | Sep 10, 2021 |
This book offers an interesting insight into the world of space travel aboard the Space Shuttle. I found the description of the Challenger disaster in 1986 especially chilling. I was under the impression that the shuttle (including passenger cockpit) exploded shortly after launch. The truth is that the shuttle broke apart, and the cockpit probably remained intact until its impact with the ocean.
Mike Mullane described the feeling of being inside this fortress of a cockpit trying to make it fly with no lift, no indicators, no communication, only utter silence as it reached its highest point then began falling to the ocean. The disaster is famous because of schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe. Here, however, I found out that another woman astronaut lost her life on this mission. Judith Resnick was on her second mission.
There are many personal anecdotes from Mike Mullane who does not hide the fact of misogynistic and pigheaded male tendencies he started out with in the Air Force.
A woman astronaut would have had extremely difficult among the males in those days before PC became obligatory. The book drags at times with descriptive prose but in all a very edifying read that gives an honest glimpse into the unflattering (and dangerous) aspects of space flights, in addition to the primitive workings of male brains. Mike Mullane did not shy away from the details you wondered about but never dared to ask, like the toilet habits of astronauts. In fact, he starts the first chapter already with TMI about preparing for his first proctosigmoidoscopy. Good book if you have the interest and the time.
Looking now at the risks taken by these people, who pitted themselves against the elemental laws of physics and gravity, while armed only with nascent technology that proved at times fatal, is nothing short of breathtaking. ( )
  moukayedr | Sep 5, 2021 |
What it says on the tin—Mullane is a mostly unrepentant sexist who wants you to take his acknowledgement that his sexism is unwarranted as sufficient excuse for hearing him recite it in a way that makes clear that he's only distancing himself from it now because he knows potential readers will dislike it. Because I’m basically inured to this kind of thing, I could read the rest of the book, which does effectively convey his excitement at the opportunity to be an astronaut, his frustration with NASA politics and the decisions that led to the Challenger disaster, and his other adventures. ( )
  rivkat | Aug 16, 2019 |
I had mixed feelings about this book.

On one hand it is really well written, flowed really well, didn't get bogged down in the techno babble that dooms so many other books on space and space exploration, and at times was funny and poignant. It gives a very good behind the scenes look at the Shuttle program, its management, and most importantly the personalities of the astronauts themselves. His recounting of the flights he participated in were particularly good, including exceptionally well written sections on the times he spent simply watching the Earth go by beneath him. Best of all it is a very easy read!

On the other hand, Mullane tries too hard to come off as the typically over-sexed, right wing, hot shot rocket jock everyone assumes test pilots are. It seems contrived. The constant stream of digs at N.O.W., Gloria Steinem, Ted Kennedy and "commies" grew kind of tiresome. And I am convinced he doesn't actually know what the term "political correctness" means. He seems to think every time someone pushed back on some sexist and/or inappropriate thing he said or did they were being "politically correct." In actuality they were just pointing out he was being a jerk.

He was also unnecessarily critical of non-astronauts who either flew the shuttle or had some other role astronauts with a military background disapproved of. In what seems like a requirement for test pilots he apparently believed the Shuttle Program was there exclusively so he could fulfill his dream of getting into space. Any accommodation made to non-astronauts that delayed that goal was viewed with disdain.

His criticisms of John Glenn and Christa McAuliffe were notably off base...referring to their role in the shuttle program as immoral. He seems not to have a grasp of the larger purpose for manned space exploration, nor the fact that its funding is dependent on the support of the American people.

In the epilogue he included a moving tribute to the professional astronauts who were killed in the Challenger disaster; omitting part timers Christa McAuliffe and Greg Jarvis from his tribute. An unnecessary and petty omission in my opinion; one that ignores the inspiration McAuliffe has been to younger generations.

These criticisms aside however, I really did enjoy this book. The folks that decide to risk their lives doing this work will always get slack from me. ( )
  mybucketlistofbooks | Jan 10, 2015 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 11) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
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Sinun täytyy kirjautua sisään voidaksesi muokata Yhteistä tietoa
Katso lisäohjeita Common Knowledge -sivuilta (englanniksi).
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Tiedot englanninkielisestä Yhteisestä tiedosta. Muokkaa kotoistaaksesi se omalle kielellesi.
To my mother and father, who lifted my eyes to space.
To the thousands of men and women of the space shuttle team, who put me in space.
To Donna, who was at my side every step of the way.
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia (4)

In 1978, the first group of space shuttle astronauts, 29 men and six women, were introduced to the world. USAF Colonel Mike Mullane was a member of this astronaut class, and this is his story. Mullane strips the heroic veneer from the astronaut corps and paints them as they are--human, with tales of military flyboys, feminist pioneers and post-doc scientists. He portrays every aspect of the astronaut experience, and is brutally honest in his criticism of a NASA leadership whose bungling would precipitate the Challenger disaster.--From publisher description.

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