Top critical review
Unusual mission controller historic perspective
Reviewed in the United States on May 22, 2019
I love space era history. This book was recommended by someone leading a software operations and site reliability team to me, and having read the book, I know why.
The author was the ground-based flight director for the Apollo lunar missions and played a similar role in all earlier space missions from Alan Sheppard’s first American in space onwards. As such, the author has detailed first hand knowledge of the full history of the US Space Program.
The reasons why I did not rate the book higher:
- It reads dry, with a lot of names of people and insistence on explaining various roles on the mission control team, which ultimately breaks up the flow of the story
- It is purely Mission Control focused. To the point where personal interest stories are minimized, little is mentioned about the engineering side (rockets, capsules, computers), and the astronauts are the “other” and their experience is not covered either.
- What actually happened on the moon is barely mentioned. This really is just a space flight controller book.
I learned a few historic tidbits I didn’t know before. For example, Charles Lindbergh has dinner with the Apollo astronauts before the first lunar mission.
When I compare this book to the 2019 documentary Apollo 11 or the movies First Man or The Right Stuff, the lack of breadth, emotion and storytelling in this book becomes even more apparent.
Recommended with reservations, only for hard core space buffs.