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Riding Rockets

July 7, 2008

Filed under: entertainment,life,review — Terry Wohlers @ 11:41

Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Mike Mullane chronicles much of his life leading up to his three shuttle missions into space. An engineer friend, Boris Fritz of Northrop Grumman, highly recommended the book. He said, “I picked it up and couldn’t put it down.” Boris and I heard Mullane speak at the Society of Manufacturing Engineers’ RAPID conference in Chicago, Illinois in May 2003. Mullane has appeared on major television shows and is an outstanding motivational speaker, but he is an even better writer.

Nearly every paragraph gripped my attention with fascinating insight and vivid detail. Mullane recounted countless stories from decades ago as if they happened yesterday. He must have kept a log or journal over the years, thinking that he may someday write about his days as an astronaut. Late in the book, he mentioned that he looked forward to writing assignments in school, suggesting that he had aspirations of writing. Most people would not be able to recall enough detail to fill 360 pages. Mullane did it and made it incredibly interesting.

Mullane didn’t hold back much in the book and he had me laughing out loud several times. His story about getting sized for a urine collection device was hilarious. He talked a lot about an astronaut’s life that included enormous highs and lows, saying good bye to his wife, the misery of waiting for a launch, and seemingly endless delays, as well as parties, pranks, and encounters with celebrities. He was brutally candid and not afraid to tell it like was, even if his words offended others. Mullane’s comments emphasized how much astronauts live on the edge and often flirted with death. His remarks on the female astronauts were intriguing. Through much of the book, he criticized NASA management for sharing so little information, deliberately keeping him and other astronauts in the dark for years.

If you’re looking for some very good, entertaining summer reading, get this book. I promise, you won’t want to put it down. And, you don’t need to be an engineer, scientist, or “techie” to enjoy it. I give Riding Rockets five stars.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks so much for these wonderful comments! I sincerely appreciate them. Good luck and have a wonderful summer.

    Mike Mullane

    Comment by Mike Mullane — July 17, 2008 @ 16:11