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Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut

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  • Posted September 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    An unprecedented look at the space shuttle program

    I can't imagine that there is a better book out there to describe the early days of the space shuttle program. Col. Mullane tells the story of the "Thirty-Five New Guys" (TFNGs...by the way, they go by another name where the "F" doesn't stand for "five"!) and redefines the term "overachiever." His stories illuminate the selection process; the brown-nosing of management by each astronaut class quickly followed by the disenchantment with management; the thrill, fear, hardship associated with spaceflight and its risks; and the comedy that ensues when you mix a bunch of military jocks with post-docs and women. (Want to do a great zero-G gag? Let a sausage float out of the toilet and watch other astronauts scatter!)

    The book isn't all speed and jokes. Mike Mullane was very good friends with the crew of STS-51L, the Challenger mission that exploded 73 seconds after launch. He speaks freely of his close friendship with Challenger astronaut Judy Resnick and what her death meant to him. He also pulls no punches in his criticism of NASA management for creating a culture that ultimately lead to Challenger; a culture where dissenting views were dismissed and people were afraid to speak up for fear of losing their seats on future missions.

    Mullane also talks with great self-awareness about his personal life: how his parents fostered his dream, how his wife nurtured that dream, how he occasionally failed as a husband and father in pursuit of the same dream, and how his work with women in the astronaut corps lead to his own personal growth (he was a product of a Catholic and military education). When I finished the book, I felt as though I knew him as a family member.

    "Riding Rockets" is honest, funny, poignant, insightful, and thrilling. The worst part of the book is that it has an ending; the only way I would've enjoyed it more is if it were twice as long, for I never wanted his story to end.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2006

    A truly exceptional & fun read!

    Mike not only puts you in the cockpit, but he also brings you into his family and shares the emotional (& physical!) challenges of becoming and being an astronaut. His sense of humor and antics make for some laugh out loud reading. I, too, must herald from Planet AD! Mike weaves just the right amount of technical aspects into what is ultimately a human story of achievement, camaradie, sacrifice, and the inherent risks of the shuttle program. Of additional interest...This is also a story of personal and organization leadership and management without any of the 'self-help' jargon. Mike, thanks for one of the best reads in a long time!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 13, 2011

    Great

    Great book i love it. It has me rotfloling the whole time i have read it

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2007

    Very amusing!

    I really enjoyed reading this book. I definately recommend this book for 'space-geeks' as I am one myself. Very factual but funny as well. I enjoyed the stories of his personal experiences in life before and while with NASA.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2006

    Just another girl who wants to be an astronaut...

    I highly recommend this book. It's not geared for children due to some language and stuff he experiences, but for the adult space enthusiast, it's a superb, hilarious, great book!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2006

    Great Read/The Shuttle Book We've Waited For

    Mullane is a master story teller, whether in person, fact or fiction ('Red Sky'), but he is at his best here. We get NASA warts and all, no sugar coating of people and processes. Best 'Post-Apollo' book out there.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2006

    Dream of Riding Rockets? Hold On and Read First

    Bravo! A boys dream of space flight becomes reality, a journey that includes many others. These stories are very down to earth, funny, and emotional. Each chapter is filled with wonderful insights about the space shuttle program. The author says it is impossible to describe what it is like to fly in space using words, I am sure glad that he tried anyway. I now feel like I have been there. Thanks Mike! Be ready to feel as you have never before, a must read. A very hard to put down book.

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