Shuttle, Houston

Surprise, surprise, I’m back with the space books. I think I missed my calling in life (thanks, Saxon Math -_-). img_1876

Sometimes, I just like to look online at upcoming releases, and since I work for a bookstore, I have the ability to request digital advance copies for some books. So when I saw a biography-type book by Paul Dye, a NASA flight director who was around for pretty much the entire shuttle program, I was immediately intrigued, even though I’d never heard of the guy before.

Working his way up through the ranks within NASA, Dye has stories from training for missions to working on Spacelab and various shuttle flights. He also has insight in what it takes to make it in the NASA hierarchy. While everyone in the control room has an important job to do, it’s the flight director who is responsible for both the mission success and the safety of the crew. This is the weight Dye carried, and the weight he discusses in the book.

However, the book is a lot more than that, too. It looks at the 135-mission lifespan of the shuttle program, at what was gained by it, and a glance at what was lost when we retired the program.

I’m not sure if it’s because I was reading digitally, which is challenging for me, but I found this book a little dissatisfying. It wasn’t a series of stories in chronological order, nor was it a collection of topics neatly grouped. It felt a little scattered, a little all over the place, making hard to follow along sometimes.

In the beginning, Dye leads off with an intense story where he had to make the choice to attempt reentry or to leave the crew on the International Space Station to guarantee safety. At the end of the story, when the decision is made, Dye reveals it was a simulation, training for an upcoming mission. But these are the kinds of stories I expected to find sprinkled throughout the book, but they weren’t as frequent as I wanted. Instead, it sometimes got a little bogged down in the science and technicalities, which, while still interesting, makes for a very different kind of book.

All in all, though, it was an interesting book. And while there wasn’t maybe as much mission drama as I would have liked, Dye did include many little stories and comments about life in Mission Control that made the book fun to read.

If you enjoy NASA, space, and/or science, keep an eye out for Shuttle, Houston, released today.


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