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on February 8, 2016
So happy I bought this book
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on March 24, 2017
As advertisef
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on October 15, 2014
I worked at NASA for many years so I know the stories. Great book!
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on November 14, 1998
While at times poorly organized, and clearly pushing lots ofpersonal agendas and vendettas, this book is still the best insidestory of any NASA activity in the last 30 years.
Its also a reminder of what a disservice institutional lying does to the organization that fosters it.
Dan Goldin made a political bet on MIR and Russia, yet he lacked the organizational skill to implement through a morbund NASA. He continues to pay the price today.
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on August 26, 2014
I lost my book and happily have another copy now.
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on October 16, 2014
Get the inside view of this whole operation. Good read, even if it is now history.
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on December 27, 2003
This is a great book, very entertaining! You'll feel like you are really there, floating around in the space station.The book goes into a lot of behind-the-scenes personality clashes between astronauts/cosmonauts. Tells the story of the Mir and International space stations.
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on May 23, 2013
As a Baby Boomer who followed NASA from its very inception, this book is both fascinating and disheartening. I rate it high because it is thorough, well-written, and even-handed in its presentation. The appalling part is finding out just how much of The Wrong Stuff had gotten into both countries' space programs. Burrough clearly describes the extent to which neither side trusted each other, how often money & politics took precidence over safety & common sense, and the painful situation the cosmonauts & astronauts found themselves in. This is a study in bureaucratic incompetance, irresponsibility, and indifference. The author pulls no punches, and doesn't hesitate to criticize either side of a dispute.

The Russians managers cared much more about getting U.S. money than safety, and about keeping their iron-fisted control over the cosmonauts. The cosmonauts, being paid by their performance, were afraid of making any mistakes, so wouldn't tell the astronauts how anything worked, but wouldn't do anything themselves without permission from the ground. When things did go wrong, the ground controllers would pretend nothing had happened, keeping the Americans in the dark, and later the managers and cosmonauts would blame each other.

NASA managers only seemed to care about keeping Congressional money flowing, maintaining their own power positions, and keeping the Russians from bailing on the ISS program. They couldn't get any experienced astronauts or competent managers to volunteer for this train wreck of a program. Nobody wanted to rock the boat, so looked the other way about proper training and safety. The astronauts that did complain were ignored, and all of them lived in fear of displeasing the one NASA guy who decided who would get to fly shuttle missions, and who wouldn't.

One of the most startling revelations is that this whole ill-conceived program came about only because President George H.W. Bush needed a poll boost in election year 1992, and wanted a impressive sounding announcement to come out of an otherwise lackluster summit meeting with Boris Yeltsin. Ironically, the Clinton adminstration inherited this turkey and also played along, but the bottom line was: neither countries' space programs wanted to have to try to work with each other, nor did the crews. Not surprisingly, this misbegotten program "ran as smoothly as a pig on stilts", as the results on-orbit painfully demonstrated.

Nevertheless, this is an eye-opening, well-written, exciting book that you will enjoy if spaceflight interests you. It must, however, make Chris Kraft and Gene Kranz either want to chew nails or cry.
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on May 23, 2015
This book is a history of the NASA astronauts that stayed aboard Mir during the late nineties, and contains many interesting facts and details about the NASA administration. The highlights are the fire and small craft collision in and on Mir, but the bureaucracy and personalities involved are even more interesting. Like the fact that George Abbey ran the astronaut program like his own little empire, and decided who went into space, and who didn't, and who stifled any honest discussion about safety (pp 35). I didn't even know who Abbey was until I read this book. And this little game was played AFTER the Challenger explosion. Strangely enough, Abbey's Wikipedia page doesn't mention that. Those little details, on both sides of the Atlantic, that cause accidents are in this book. That alone is worth the price of admission.
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on March 20, 2008
In the 1990s, the pride of Russia's space program was its aging space station, Mir. So much had changed as the Soviet Union broke apart, with nothing more apt to bring the changes home than the launch facilities' being located, now, in a separate and independent country. Yet that space program's culture remained the same, and the American astronauts who volunteered to serve tours of duty aboard Mir found it alien not just to U.S. culture - but, far more tellingly, to that of NASA. Especially to NASA post-Challenger, where every employee was encouraged to speak up about safety concerns.

It wasn't that way aboard Mir. The cosmonauts (two members of each three-person crew), working on a bonus and fines system, knew they had to stay aboard and keep the station operating no matter what. Even when their own rule book said it was time to get aboard the attached Soyuz capsule and abandon ship, after the first decompression of an occupied spacecraft in history, they refused to leave. Leaks of toxic coolant, fires, even complete power losses that shut the station down - leaving it in absolute darkness during the night phase of each Earth orbit - nothing convinced the cosmonauts it was time to go home ahead of schedule. Were they just plain wrong? Was their ground control, which expected this of them and made it absolutely clear this was the case, heartless and out of touch with the reality those aloft were facing? So it often seemed to the series of American astronauts, a varied lot who for the most part "volunteered" for this duty because each knew it was his or her only chance to fly.

Author Burrough brings out the facts in often exhaustive detail (so exhaustive that even this lifelong space program junkie sometimes had to slog through chapters while wondering, "Is this going somewhere? Really, is it?"). His research is meticulous, his sources impeccable, and his conclusions - when they're finally reached - wind up being the reader's own, because that is exactly what his writing achieves. For that reason, I'm calling this book a winner. Its only faults are being a bore at times (there really are passages I swear only an engineer would find interesting!), and switching tenses in a haphazard manner that's sure to drive readers who notice such things crazy.
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