Place of publication: New YorkPublication date: 2006
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.”