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Flight: My Life in Mission Control

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  1,027 ratings  ·  54 reviews
In his New York Times bestseller, Chris Kraft delivers an unforgettable account of his life in Mission Control. The first NASA flight director, Kraft emerged from boyhood in small-town America to become a visionary who played an integral role in what would become the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It's all here, from the legendary Mercury missions that firs ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published February 26th 2002 by Plume (first published March 1st 2001)
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 ·  1,027 ratings  ·  54 reviews

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Now felt like the right time for me to read this book, since you could make an argument that Chris Kraft basically invented the job I recently started. And it was interesting for me to go back to the very beginning of the U.S. space program, and especially to get more details on Mercury and Gemini. I know the history of Apollo in a fair bit of depth, largely due to the class I took on it at MIT, but I enjoyed reading a deeply involved insider's perspective on the programs that preceded it. I app ...more
Scott Foshee
Nov 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Intensely Interesting, Salty Account of the U.S. Space Program from its Beginnings Through Apollo and Beyond

Chris Kraft pens a very interesting account of his life and his work with NACA (the forerunner to NASA), NASA, his work in aeronautical research, and his rise to NASA flight Director and beyond to director of the Manned Spacecraft Center. Kraft essentially invented mission control for the U.S. Space Program. Kraft was flight director for some of mankind’s greatest adventures, and he states
For all those who sat up and watched Neil Armstrong walk on the Moon. Readable and utterly enthralling.
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, favorites
Such an engaging book. Kraft is a wonderful story teller. His story is inspiring and it's amazing to see the impact he had on history. True American legend and hero.
Jan 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I didn't grow up during the space race. Everything I know about it comes from the movies Apollo 13 and October Sky, and what my dad tells me. I randomly decided to read this book because it seemed interesting. It became my very favorite biography. I just finished reading it again - this time with my husband.

The book is written by Christopher Kraft. He was NASA's first flight director (in the movie Apollo 13 Gene Kranz is the flight director - if that helps). He was with NASA before they even ha
Nov 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Of all the biographies and autobiographies I've read about NASA/Apollo people, this is my favorite so far. Chris Kraft was NASA's original flight director—the one who runs the show in mission control during missions. In fact, he led the effort to create mission control and all of the policies and procedures that make it what it is today. Read this if you want details behind the legendary events and people of NASA's race to the moon. Kraft was an integral part of the process from pre-NASA days th ...more
Aug 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is one of the better behind the scenes narratives about the Space Race and the birth of NASA. What really impressed me was Chris Kraft discussing his early days as an aeronautical engineer and the amount of pure mathematics he was required to do, with a slide rule as they had no calculators or computers in the 1940s. I found it interesting a few pages later when he discussed his move to the brand new NASA and what was appealing was that he'd be able to get back to engineering and away from ...more
Jul 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Excellent book about the space program. Chris Kraft was at the right place to experience some of the best of America's space program. This book is well written and explains, not just the events, but his thoughts and decision making process on many key decisions. While reading it, you feel like you are there also. This is one of the few books that covers the Mercury and Gemini space programs in detail by someone who was there. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about ...more
Sarah Eckert
Apr 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I think Joy gave this book to me. Great book! Recommended for anyone interested in space, the space program and NASA in particular. Really gives a behind the scenes look at one of the most noticeable roles in NASA Mission Control: The Flight Director, or "Flight."
Rod Pyle
Nov 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
You don't know the space race until you read Chris Kraft...
Chris Kraft’s autobiography, from his humble childhood beginnings through his career in Mission Control was quite insightful and fairly well-written. I found Kraft’s assisted writing to be personable and intelligent without getting too technical. Moreover, he really made me think . . .

It’s quite phenomenal, really, how in a mere ten-year period America went from testing airplanes and theoretical rocketry to walking on the moon. Much of what was physically and technologically required for such a
Rick Denatale
Oct 30, 2011 rated it liked it
I've read a LOT of memoirs from the early U.S. Space Program.

It's clear that there was a bit of a division between Kraft and his flight controllers and the astronaut corps.

Kraft had his heroes and villains among the astronauts, among the latter was definitely Scott Carpenter, if you read "Flight" you should also read Carpenter's "For Spacious Skies" to get the other view. I think that Kraft was the astronauts as people who should just follow the dictates of "Flight", which many of the astronauts
Adam Mills
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First rate narrative of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions from the man who was the original Flight Controller. Chris Kraft was in at the formation of Nasa from the Space Task Group under Bob Gilruth in 1958 and was the designer of Mission Control, its functions and procedures. He later became the Flight Operations Director and then towards the end of Apollo the head of the Manned Spacecraft Centre at Houston. The descriptions and inside information on the early missions is fascinating in i ...more
May 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Chris Kraft's memoirs covers the early history of NASA from someone directly responsible for getting so much of the manned space program done, but still close to the management and bureaucratic side of the agency. As such it gives a fairly unique perspective that's both technical, looking at how NASA solved their constant challenges being pioneers in spaceflight, and political, acclaiming and critiquing the management side.

If you're interested in space history this is a must read from an often-o
Jul 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kraft did a great job... and not just on the book. :)

I don't think it's as classic a book as Chaikin's _A Man On The Moon_. On the other hand, it's just as essential, if you have any interest in space flight. I loved hearing about the origins of the space program. I wouldn't minimize the astronauts' role, but there's so much more. Any one book, including this, can only show a tiny fraction of something as big as Apollo. But it's hard to think of a more essential perspective than Mission Control'
Stan McCown
Jun 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the US manned space program
For anyone who has read about or remembers the U.S. space program, or wishes to become familiar with it in retrospect, this book is a must. Chris Kraft was the man behind the early launches, not just from a console in a block house but in the planning and the training of crews, and this account is the ultimate insider’s story. Kraft clears up a number of questions and controversies about the events that made up the manned space program, and in a refreshing, frank way, he holds nothing back in ex ...more
Jon Cotton
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book, "Flight", and Gene Kranz's "Failure is Not an Option" are now two of my most treasured books. Stunning how it took me ~17 years to discover them. Man in space is incredible. Getting to the moon, incredible. Landing six times, incredible. Humans leaving our world, landing on another, then returning safely is just mind boggling. Doing it all from nothing within 11 years is astounding.

Watch Apollo 13 the movie and think about how that really happened. That's a taste. That was only one mi
K De
Jun 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This autobiography by Christopher Kraft is concise and matter of fact about the his life and his career in NASA. There are many interesting vignettes he writes about during the time before NASA and during his years in NASA. The largest part of the autobiography is about his time during the creation of manned space flight and the space race against the USSR. It was a blazing time for space and technology that was a national challenge set forth by President Kennedy.

I found it fascinating to look b
May 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not just an insider's account but one of the core team who grew and led the moonshot from it's beginnings. Of course there is enough swagger and ego, and a handful of people who get scarred. Yet it's astounding to see the raw attitude and personality of one of the people who drove success on the ground. Two interesting elements are how much of the Apollo programme was built on the earlier expertise with aircraft testing as much as with Mercury and Gemini, and with having a clear vision of the re ...more
Velimir Randic
Apr 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent look at America's space program by one of the principal contributors, Chris Kraft, NASA's first flight director and man on the scene for all the important Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo flights. Kraft doesn't pull any punches about the Apollo 1 fire, misbehaviour in the astronaut corps, and the unfulfilled promise of lunar exploration after Nixon cancelled the last three missions. A remarkable memoir of America's finest hour.
Andrey Sudarikov
May 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was one of the enjoyable adventures one could take. A glimpse into motivation, problem solving and brainstorming of the first generations of brilliant mind that worked on putting humans into space is a treat! I highly recommend this volume to any person who is interested in one of the greatest endeavors of Mankind.
Philip Hollenback
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, science
Just an absolutely fantastic memoir from one of the key players at the beginning of the US space program. I particularly enjoyed how Chris Kraft was not afraid to talk about how he really felt about other people. In particular, he singles out astronaut Scott Carpenter as completely incompetent. I got the feeling from reading this book that Kraft was not an easy man to work for.
Aug 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jeffrey by: NPR
I have read Flight six or seven times, and it has blown me away each time. Kraft's engaging first person account of the space race from its inception reminds me of how ingenious and tenacious Americans can be. Kraft's memoir is easy to read and fascinating.
Oct 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book which recounts the life of Chris Kraft. Kraft takes us through the formative years of NASA. This book and Failure is Not an Option by Gene Kranz provide a definitive picture of life in Mission Control during the Mercury/Gemini/Apollo era of spaceflight.
Jim Cunningham
Jun 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kraft's story is amazing. He holds nothing back and speaks his mind about individuals he likes and does not like. The amount of work, stress, and uncertainty that permeated the manned space program was more complex than I imagined. Kraft tells the story superbly.
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So amazing to be reading this at the time I visited Space Center Houston and touring the Kraft Mission Control building. Great read, makes me want to learn more about Gemini.
Jun 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
great book. nice history of how mission control was created.
Aaron Curtis
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
When I picked this up, I wondered if it would try to tell the story of every single manned US mission from Mercury to Apollo. Surely not, I thought -- it'll have to skip some of the boring parts. Turns out there aren't any boring parts. Kraft masterfully weaves together the human and engineering stories behind each flight and presents each in the light of its significance for the country and the world.

This book is steeped in Kraft's pride for NASA's lean early days, but he is remarkably candid i
Eric Hawkins
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Most of the books that I have read regarding the personnel that worked at the MCC have dealt, almost exclusively, with their involvement in certain missions. After reading "Flight," I had a greater understanding of the various tasks that were laid at the feet of our mission controllers. Chris Kraft does an excellent job of relating the physics of spaceflight into laymen terms. In doing this, he laid the groundwork for me to be able to comprehend the numerous other books that I would later read o ...more
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is an incredibly in-depth history of the Mercury/Gemini/Apollo NASA missions, told by the flight director. I loved it, but if I were just a lukewarm space enthusiast I would have found it dry and probably would have quit reading. I loved reading some of the behind the scenes drama that went on as they tried to figure out how to meet Kennedy's challenge to put a man on the moon. I want to watch Apollo 13 now!
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