Flight – My Life in Mission Control

Author: Chris Kraft

On July 20, 1969, near the end of a great decade of near-space exploration, a small craft called Eagle landed on the moon’s surface. As anyone who watched the televised broadcast of the landing might recall, the astronauts aboard Eagle were guided to their objective by a capable ground crew headed by Chris Kraft, whom his colleagues had long called “Flight.” Kraft was unflappable on the surface, but, as he writes in this memoir, the Eagle‘s landing had moments of drama that gave him pause, and that few outside NASA knew about–including baleful alarms from the ship’s on-board computer that warned of imminent disaster.

For Kraft, frightening moments were part of his job as director of Mission Control. He encountered many of them in the early years of the space program, when failures were commonplace and all too often caused not by mechanics but by politics. We learn of many in Kraft’s pages. One such failure was the Soviet Union’s Sputnik launch, about which Kraft thunders, “We should have beaten them….”