Saturday, October 2, 2010

Riding Rockets by Mike Mullane

Riding Rockets is the memoirs of shuttle era astronaut, Mike Mullane. He completed three shuttle missions with NASA before retirement. This book describes his early life (driving him towards space) as well as adventures within NASA. This book will disabuse you of any idealistic misconceptions about the nature of astronauts. Similarly, Mullane disparages NASA's leadership and culture. You may finish this book with lessened faith in NASA's leadership.

A great deal of this book is devoted to Mullane's sense of humor, apparently shared by most other astronauts. They were rather crude, sexist, and hilarious. Lots of pranks and jokes. Most parts of this book were interspersed with his observations about the sexism in other astronauts, and his own waxing and waning sexism. I found it entertaining, but I found their sexism a little disappointing. I know, it's silly. But when you have heroes you want them to be perfect and heroic, right?

This book was strangely religious, although it had nothing to do with religion. Mullane is a Catholic, and the entire book was sort of written through a lens of Catholicism. It was all praying for this, and thanking god for that. It was very casual and not tendentious which I appreciated. Maybe I need to read more memoirs and autobiographies, because it seems really strange to me when religion is permeating a completely non-religious book! I guess it makes sense, that as a religious person he would write about his experiences in terms of religion.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in space or NASA. It really is an edifying book about NASA's culture. Very entertaining and insightful. It was a fast, fun read.

1 comment:

  1. Good review!

    I can't wait to read it. Though I do think that it would be easy to find religion when you look back upon Earth from space...or even near space.


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