am 13. Juni 2000
Just a kid when the Mercury astronauts were first lofted skyward, I was more fascinated by what was going on in Mission Control than I was by what the astronauts themselves were doing, which was mostly just sitting there pushing buttons. I had no idea why dozens of men in the control room were sitting in front of seemingly identical monitors -- did they actually have real jobs, or was it all just for show? None of the television commentators ever bothered to explain what was going on in there.
Which is why Lost Moon, the book on which the movie "Apollo 13" was based, was such a revelation. Only then did we really learn that the extraordinarily complex spacecraft carrying the astronauts never functioned perfectly for more than five minutes at a time, and controlling a mission was about solving mind-numbing problems that were occurring thousands of miles away. That the men on the ground were the true heart of spaceflight was confirmed for me by the chapter in Failure Is Not an Option about the very first Apollo mission, which was flown from start to finish by Mission Control: there were no astronauts on board the vehicle.
Kranz, the buzz-cutted ex-test pilot who was the very personification of Mission Control (Ed Harris played him in "Apollo 13"), gives us an insider's view of that critical function, complete with fascinating stories of some of the more harrowing incidents that the public was only dimly aware of. Of equal interest are his observations about what it was like to build from scratch an organization for which little precedent existed.
At times repetitive and self-congratulatory, Failure Is Not an Option is nevertheless a compulsively readable, engineer's-eye perspective on what is arguably one of the two or three greatest technological triumphs in history. Like Lost Moon, it's only major fault is that it's entirely too short.
am 11. September 2007
Die Helden der Raumfahrt snd die Astronauten -- sollte man meinen. Das ist auch so, aber nicht weniger Hochachtung verdienen die Ingenieure, Techniker, Programmierer und Manager am Boden. In ihre nicht weniger aufregenden Welt entführt Gene Kranz seine Leser mit diesem autobiographischen Werk über die Anfänge von Mission Control bis hin zum Apollo-Programm. Man mag das Buch gar nicht wieder aus der Hand legen -- so spannend ist es geschrieben: "Houston, wir haben einen Bestseller!"
Kranz' Buch ist nicht nur für Raumfahrtinteressierte geeignet. Auch für Manager aus anderen Fachbereichen lohnt die Lektüre, da man nebenbei viel über Gruppendynamik und Krisenbewältigung erfährt.
am 12. Oktober 2014
..., aber hier meldet sich jemand, der die "Helden" überhaupt erst einmal hochgeschossen hat. Das Buch ist unglaublich lehrreich. Gene Kranz war von Anfang an dabei. Er vermittelt glaubhaft, wie unbedarft man sich damals in das Space-Race mit der Sowjetunion begeben hat. Jeder Flug, jedes Manöver - immer war es ein "first ever" mit offenem Ausgang. Hier waren Risikobereitschaft und Improvisationstalent gefragt, absolute Hingabe, Disziplin und Verantwortungsbereitschaft. NIX für winselnde Sozialarbeiter. Die Berichterstattung beginnt mit den ersten unbemannten Raumflügen und endet mit dem Auslaufen des Apollo-Programms. Drei Jahrzehnte nach seinem Ausscheiden fasst der Autor seinen Weg als "FLIGHT" zusammen. Er beklagt, dass aus seiner Sicht nach der CHALLENGER Katastrophe der NASA die Visionen ausgegangen sind. Und er hat wohl auch Recht: Die USA besitzen kein Raumfahrzeug mehr, mit dem man Menschen auch "nur" zur Internationalen Raumstation transportieren könnte, das ARES Programm wurde nach einem Testflug eingestellt, das Know-How ist verloren gegangen, die Russen wollen sich von der ISS zurückziehen, aber die soll ja auch schon um 2020 aufgegeben werden. WAS KOMMT DANACH? Wo ist der neue Kennedy :- LET'S GO TO THE MOON - ?
Ich bin alt. Ich versuche den Teil der Geschichte aufzuarbeiten, den ich selbst noch erlebt habe. Die Mondlandung. Raumfahrt und Technologie haben mich schon immer interessiert, ich war in allen NASA Space Centers, habe alle IMAX Filme gesehen und komme aus dem Staunen noch immer nicht heraus. In "FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION" werden keine Kenntnisse vorausgesetzt, die unvermeidlichen Abkürzungen werden einmal gründlich eingeführt und können danach im umfangreichen Anhang nachgeschlagen werden. In diesem Buch wird NICHT die "Raum-Mechanik" erklärt, denn das würde auch die intellektuellen Möglichkeiten der meisten Leser überfordern. Mir bleiben da noch viele Fragen, ganz speziell zu den sagenhaften Rendezvous-Manövern. Da hätte ich mir vielleicht doch etwas mehr gewünscht, aber das ist andererseits auch nicht das Thema des Autors.
Mein Urteil: Wer sich für Raumfahrt begeistert, der findet hier einen sehr guten Einstieg. Es wird sicher auch noch andere Bücher zur Mondlandung geben, und ich werde auch noch etwas dazu lesen. FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION sollte aber auf jeden Fall ein Teil der Lektüre sein zum Thema. Englisch ist für mich eine Fremdsprache. Ich konnte das Buch aber flüssig lesen. VIER STERNE von FÜNF: Danke.
am 10. Juli 2000
If you're like me, the everything about the early days of space flight is captivating. I've read other accounts of this time period, including the incredibly in-depth michener novel "Space". What you don't often see is the view from the controller's booth. You don't see that often there was absolutely no data or voice communications between early spacecraft and the ground. You don't see the months of drills that Mission Control would stage, only to encounter problems that they could never have dreamed. Consequently, this account is a good read, and I enjoyed it. You may occasionally get bogged down by Franz's desire to name almost every person he can think of, as well as the endless acronyms. The jacket makes a big connection with Apollo 13. It is misleading because the book is far more comprehensive than that. Despite these shortcomings, I found it hard to put down and eye-opening.
am 5. Februar 2011
Ich kann mich der Rezension von Nethegauner nur anschließen, dieses Buch ist sehr lesenswert!
Nach anfänglicher Skepsis, mich auf ein knapp 400-seitiges ENGLISCHES Buch einzulassen, wich diese mehr und mehr der Begeisterung - wenn das Lesen auch nicht ganz so flüssig ging wie bei einem deutschen Werk. Auch nach dem Wörterbuch musste ab und zu gegriffen werden, möchte man schließlich alles verstehen. Man findet sich in der höchst faszinierenden Raumfahrt-Pionierzeit wieder und empfindet immer mehr Bewunderung ob der Leistung der Controller, Ingenieure und natürlich auch der Astronauten. Vor allem, was alles schiefging und oft nur um Haaresbreite mit viel Sachverstand und natürlich auch Glück gerade noch gelöst werden konnte, ist nicht nur der Öffentlichkeit, sondern auch dem Raumfahrt-Interessierten kaum oder gar nicht bekannt. Dem Eindruck der Selbstbeweihräucherung eines anderen Rezensenten kann ich jedoch nicht folgen, ich finde, dass Gene Kranz die vielen Kollegen sehr hervorhebt und oft die eine oder andere Anekdote bereithält. Sehr selten, dass er sich über einen Mitstreiter negativ äußert. Abschließend kann ich mich nur wundern, dass dieses Buch noch nicht ins Deutsche übersetzt wurde!
am 21. Juni 2000
Gene Kranz was there from the start, a true pioneer. Starting with a blank page, the Mercury program, and progressing through Gemini and Apollo; developing the plans, procedures and mission goals to accomplish mankinds' greatest acheivement -- landing a man on the moon and safely returning him to earth.
Tough and competent, discipline and morale. Mr. Kranz defined the human spirit with these statements in a way you can in no way comprehend without reading this book.
The title says it all, FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION. Read it.
am 9. Mai 2000
After reading, and highly enjoying, books from many Apollo era astronauts (Shepard, Slayton, Lovell, Bean, Cernan, Collins), I wished I could learn more about the people living at the other end of the microphones, and about their work at developing, simulating and supporting America's first manned space missions.
I once clearly said to myself: "What we need is a book from Gene Kranz!". Just shortly later, I had the great surprise of finding that the said book was actually released. I immediately got it and found out that I was right. We did need to know about the complex aspects of the Mercury-Gemini-Apollo missions in a view somehow parallel from the astronaut's. It really made the whole picture clearer by looking at it from a different angle.
I was fascinated to learn that it all started with just a few guys, no teacher, no how-to-do sheets (and also with one few-inch flight!), and developed into very well organized and performing teams of highly capable and dedicated persons, who could efficiently get people to the Moon and back. The book really makes us figure the importance of the quite large, complex and competent support teams whose work was as crucial as the astronauts' for each mission to achieve its objectives, and for a country to reach its goal. I especially appreciated his way of introducing and give credit to each individual he felt was important in making the challenge of the century successful.
Thank you very much, Mr. Kranz, for spending the energy that allowed us to share the memories of someone who had the great opportunity to closely participate in such a key period of mankind history. Many thanks for letting us in the Mercury-Gemini-Apollo Mission Control rooms. After reading your book, I couldn't agree more with you: it really does look like the next best place to be from the spacecraft.
am 9. April 2000
Thanks to "Apollo13", Gene Kranz's name has become known to new generations, as well as those whose memories of the moon landings had faded. Even so, few knew much about the man who played a key role in the whole of America's space programme, from its first (sometines desperate) attempts to keep up with Russia's lead, until the Shuttle took on Kennedy's torch into space.
This book provides a clear insight into the space programme itself, but (unlike other books on the subject) it gives the reader a rare glimpse of the inner thoughts, fears, and patriotism of the man who was only 35 when he led the team of controllers which actually guided the Apollo missions to their objectives (and got them home when things went wrong).
Kranz is open about his strong religious convictions, his patriotism for his homeland, and his absolute belief in what he was doing. His commitment to the men with whom he worked comes across strongly, "men" who themselves were in the main only just out of college. In many ways, this might be expected, from a former fighter pilot, and a man whose crewcut hair style scared off the boys chasing his daughters. What is unexpected, is the raw emotion that the experiences which he went through generated in him. Kranz is honest throughout each chapter of this entralling book.
He writes as both a team player, and a team leader. Reading the book clearly shows why he is in demand at conferences to speak and pass on some of his proven ideas about clear leadership and vision.
I confess to being both a space buff, and a fan of Gene Kranz. Nervertheless, I can strongly recommend the book which serves not only as another historic record of those exciting times, but also as being a book which, for once, shows in a meaningful way how something can be achieved, if the team want it badly enough.
am 6. April 2000
The fact that Apollo 13 did not appear in the book until page 306 of 380 pages put a great deal of NASA and their missions in perspective for me.
Apollo 13 is well known by those who remember, and a generation that learned about it through the movie, and great books like, Tom Lovell's "Lost Moon". I hope as many people know about the tragedy of Apollo 1, and The Challenger is still rather fresh in the public's mind.
Apollo 13 was an incredible accomplishment by all involved, and the 3 men who persevered to make it back are nothing short of remarkable. Those on the ground took everything so personally, but the crew actually had to live through it. However the book puts this mission into perspective by taking the reader through the Mercury and Gemini programs as well.
Alan Shepard was the first to climb on a rocket that had a bad habit of exploding. I don't know what the "Right Stuff" actually is, but he had to made from it. And the Mercury Astronauts that followed all had experiences that were way up on the terror scale for non-astronauts/test pilots. That is one of the most eye opening parts of this book, every mission was so new, that the majority had problems that were potentially fatal.
You will read about the first moon landing, I never knew what happened on that one. Manned mission hit by lightening, a mission coming back with engines still on because who knew if the heat shield was still there. Every mission is just incredible from the complexity, and despite this, the rate of success.
I especially admired the manner that Mr. Kranz discussed the blown hatch on Gus Grissom's flight. The movie did a grave injustice to a man who subsequently died doing his job. The factual stories are incredible, taking liberties with what happened for dramatic effect are not necessary, and, in this case cruel.
The way the Mission Control people worked together, trusted one another, and took responsibility for their actions, is better than any management book I have ever read. The young age and the responsibilty that people in their 20's had was remarkable.
Mr. Kranz and all those like him are role models; their integrity and personal commitment were total. They gave this Country over a decade, a type of pride that was unique, and they did it with a special kind of class.
Long before the politicians got around to it this group was ahead of the human relations curve. The final Lunar Landing included a gesture that could only be made by the USA, as we were the only Country to plant 6 flags there, and had the selflessness to pay tribute to a group that you will have to read the book to learn about. I don't believe many Countries would have done it, and I suppose it really was not a Country, as much as the men and women acknowledging what is and what is not important.
An exceptional memoir!
am 24. Mai 2000
In Gene Krantz's book you do get an interesting depiction of life behind the scenes during all of NASA's spectacular successes and failures. His writing technique is the limiting factor that prevents this book from really grabbing the reader. The other problem is the alternative sources of information concerning the period particularly The Right Stuff and Apollo 13. Both these vehicles have extensive viewership (and readership) and have set the standard for the dramatic nature of NASA storytelling.
This book did contain some fascinating details on the "seat of the pants" flying the NASA team did, especially on the earlier missions. However, because the writing is so mechanical it was very hard to get emotionally attached to any particular person or persons in the story (even the austronauts we already know). This situation is created by Krantz's effort to tell us EVERYTHING that was going on during the missions (a most difficult task). One example of this is the stories he tells during Apollo 13. This most dramatic of missions has been burned in the public psyche through the movie. Yet the two most dramatic scenes (the creation of a CO2 filter and the simulation of CSM power up) are given only two paragraphs.
The only other quibble with the book is the marked lack of disagreements among the staff across all the years (there were only two in the book). Now I realize that Krantz believes in Mom and Apple Pie, but it would have been interesting to see some of the dirty laundry.
All in all this is an enjoyable read especially for technical people and those interested in the space program. It is a great history of some amazing achievements in our country's history.