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Falling Back To Earth: A First Hand Account Of The Great Space Race And The End Of The Cold War Paperback – June 2, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: New Media Books (June 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615447090
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615447094
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,053,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dr. Mark Albrecht has been a leading figure in the American space program for over twenty years. He has been the principal adviser on space to President George H.W. Bush as Executive Secretary of the National Space Council. He has been a senior aerospace executive as President of Lockheed Martin’s International Launch Services company. He has served on numerous panels and boards of advisers to the United States Air Force and NASA. He has served as a member of several private boards of directors and currently is the Chairman of the Board of USSpace, LLC a company offering innovative approaches to meet US Government requirements through privately financed acquisition of rapid response on-orbit capabilities. Dr. Albrecht is the recipient of the U.S. Department of Defense Distinguished Civil Service Medal, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal and the National Space Society Space Pioneer Award He is a graduate of UCLA with Phi Beta Kappa honors and received a PhD from the Rand Graduate Institute of Public Policy, the Rand Corporation.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey F. Bell on July 4, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This just might be the most frustrating book of insider memoirs ever. The author was head of the National Space Council during the Bush-41 Administration, and was deeply involved in the disastrous Space Exploration Initiative, the dismissal of Admiral Richard Truly as NASA Administrator, and his replacement by Dan Goldin (the longest-serving and most controversial boss NASA ever had). He could have given us an insightful insider memoir of this key era in the decline of the US manned space program.

Unfortunately, the NASA part of the book is sandwiched between two irrelevant sections. The first tries hard to rehabilitate two of that Administration's dimmest political bulbs, John Tower and Dan Quayle. The last part is a maundering account of his visits to Yeltsin-era Russia as a Lockheed-Martin executive, filled with descriptions of furniture and lunches.

Even the space policy part of the book is extremely disappointing. Albrecht gives us lots of details, including seemingly verbatim versions of meetings and conversations, but never really gets down to the real issues. Why did senior executive branch officials think that a 24% increase in the NASA budget would be approved by a hostile Democratic Congress? Why did they expect Truly (a former Shuttle astronaut) to help them dismantle Shuttle and Station and promote vague ideas for "new technology" and "new approaches". What was really going on with Lowell Wood and his crazy fly-to-Mars-in-balloons proposal? Why did Albrecht choose Goldin to replace Truly? You won't find any answers here.

The only real value of this work is that it reminds us that the increasing irrelevance of the NASA manned program was becoming obvious to some people over 20 years ago, and that even the smartest people in the business have not thought up a post-Cold War rationale for it (Norm Augustine has tried twice).
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Former Sacramentan on February 20, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are any number of histories of the U.S. space program. And a not inconsiderable number of first-hand accounts, mainly from frontline personnel such as astronauts or key ground personnel . But FALLING BACK TO EARTH combines the best of both genres. The author was the most senior White House staffer guiding space policy during a key transitional period, when the glory days of Apollo were long past, and the disappointments of the Shuttle were all too apparent. He describes the first Bush administration's effort to revive America's capacity to dream big. But in the absence of serious follow-through by succeeding administrations, this book's greatest historical significance stems from its portrayal of the important role space cooperation played in easing the risky exit from the Cold War.

Albrecht combines the street savvy of a veteran political operator with a historian's sensibility--a rare, and valuable, combination. This book sent me back to reread Bush and Scowcroft's A WORLD TRANSFORMED, another underappreciated memoir of a time whose dangers, and opportunities, were grasped by only a visionary few. If you lived through the late 1980s and early 1990s and are intrigued by space exploration, this book will take you behind the scenes of policymaking that brought NASA into the new century. If you do not know the broader history, read FALLING BACK TO EARTH in conjunction with A WORLD TRANSFORMED, and thank people like George H.W. Bush, Dan Quayle, Mikhail Gorbachev, and their space officials--especially Albrecht--for building orbital bridges between nuclear-armed nations.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By reesasilverman on August 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book will bring many issues to the mind of the reader and inspire those who have been complacent about space exploration.

The author shares interesting thoughts about complex times. He touches on problems within NASA and discusses the cultural influences on those who sought to promote cooperation with Russia.

With insight and wit, Dr. Albrecht reports on events, ever mindful of the need to re-inspire the post-Cold War approach to space exploration.

Many readers will take an interest in the serious, reflective, and open approach of Vice President Dan Quayle during the first Bush administration.
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