Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut by Mike Mullane
Synopsis: In 1978, the first group of space shuttle astronauts was introduced to the world — twenty-nine men and six women who would carry NASA through the most tumultuous years of the space shuttle program. Among them was USAF Colonel Mike Mullane, who, in his memoir Riding Rockets, strips the heroic veneer from the astronaut corps and paints them as they are — human.
Mullane’s tales of arrested development among military flyboys working with feminist pioneers and post-doc scientists are sometimes bawdy, often comical, and always entertaining. He vividly portrays every aspect of the astronaut experience, from telling a female technician which urine-collection condom size is a fit to hearing “Taps” played over a friend’s grave. He is also brutally honest in his criticism of a NASA leadership whose bungling would precipitate the Challenger disaster — killing four members of his group. A hilarious, heartfelt story of life in all its fateful uncertainty, Riding Rockets will resonate long after the call of “Wheel stop.”
Published: January 2006 | ISBN-13: 978-0743276832
Author’s Homepage: http://mikemullane.com
Not every astronaut memoir begins with the self-administration of an enema (um… that came out wrong). Not every astronaut memoir begins with the description of the author self-administering an enema in the course of the astronaut selection process. While The Right Stuff (above) was written about astronauts by a journalist, this book has exploded straight from the mind of someone who was involved intimately in the processes and operations of the US space program. Mullane tells his story with both tenderness and fierce criticism – you can feel the tenderness when he writes about his fellow astronauts, and feel the criticism when he writes about some of the questionable practices and bureaucracy at NASA. Ultimately, it is a story from the perspective of one participant, but crucially, a participant with fascinating insight and an ability to tell a story well. Also, reading this is the closest I’ll ever get to being an astronaut. – From 10 Great Books on Space