By Nate Simon
Title: Flight: My Life in Mission Control, by Chris Kraft
The unexpected launch of the Russian satellite Sputnik in 1957 plunged the United States into a “space race” against the Soviet Union that would span 15 years. At the time, Space was a virtually unknown and unexplored area, and the innovations that resulted from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions continue to shape and affect our society today. The book Flight by Chris Kraft recounts his personal experiences in developing the United States space program as flight director.
Christopher Columbus Kraft was born in the town of Phoebus, Virginia in 1928. Despite all odds, he graduated college and became a flight engineer at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, or NACA. When Sputnik was launched by the Soviet Union, a US Space Program needed to be formed almost overnight to keep up. Kraft and a few others were selected to build this program from scratch, and the results were truly spectacular. From a time where literally nothing was known about space exploration, for example how zero gravity would affect the human body, let alone orbital physics, his team was able to put a man on the moon just 12 years after the first satellite was launched into space. The book recounts his challenges, failures, and successes, as he led the US Space Program to the moon.
Personally, I loved the book, because aviation history, and especially that of the early space program, has always intrigued me. However, I would only recommend this to aviation, history, or science buffs, because the book gets quite technical, and it was hard to keep track of everything. Other than that, the book was very captivating and dramatic, as each mission had its own issues that the mission control had to sort out and solve in real time to avoid losing astronauts or the space race.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Flight, but realize that the audience of people that would appreciate the book as much as I did would be quite specific. So if you’re interested in science and technology, aviation and space exploration, or even learning about the history of one of mankind's greatest achievements, then Flight is for you.