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Publisher's Summary

In 1978, the first group of space shuttle astronauts was introduced to the world - 29 men and six women who would carry NASA through the most tumultuous years of the space shuttle program. Among them was USAF Colonel Mike Mullane, who, in his memoir Riding Rockets, strips the heroic veneer from the astronaut corps and paints them as they are - human.

Mullane's tales of arrested development among military flyboys working with feminist pioneers and post-doc scientists are sometimes bawdy, often comical, and always entertaining. He vividly portrays every aspect of the astronaut experience, from telling a female technician which urine-collection condom size is a fit to hearing "Taps" played over a friend's grave. He is also brutally honest in his criticism of a NASA leadership whose bungling would precipitate the Challenger disaster - killing four members of his group. A hilarious, heartfelt story of life in all its fateful uncertainty, Riding Rockets will resonate long after the call of "Wheel stop".

©2006 Mike Mullane (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"A thoroughly absorbing story.... A strong addition to science and space collections of any size." ( Booklist)

What listeners say about Riding Rockets

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    3 out of 5 stars

Not for the young...

My 9-year old son is interested in the space program. We recently listened to and loved Rocket Boys, Spaceman, and Rocket Men.

This one, we had to stop. It’s sad because the descriptions about the early Shuttle program are great, and the author’s childhood memories are fine, too. What we couldn’t take were the constant sexual discussion and immature view of women. I put up with it for a while, thinking that it couldn’t get any worse. But it just keeps coming. We’re giving up at 10 chapters in.

It feels like it was written 30 years ago. If my son were a little older, I’d take the time to explain how society has changed, but he doesn’t need to hear these immature views at his age.

9 people found this helpful

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Crass, funny, inappropriate, informative

This astronaut embodies the toxic masculine fighter jock. You will hear more about genitalia and toilets in space than in any other astronaut memoir to date. He does at least evolve his draconian views of women slightly by the end of the book.
He does give detailed descriptions of the working of NASA in the beginning of the shuttle program. His information is not without merit if you can get past his vile sense of humor and chauvinism.

4 people found this helpful

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excellent story and details l

I've been binge listening to astronaut books. this one had a lot of interesting details of some of the drama within nasa management. criticisms were effective and showing how not everything at nasa was not always a pale of kittens while keeping it tasteful and respectful. I enjoyed this different look into everyday life.

1 person found this helpful

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Couldn’t put it down!

For anyone who is interested in space and the golden age of the space shuttle program you cannot skip out on this one. I only wish It was longer! I just got done listening to it and I immediately want to start it over again. Thanks Mike Mullane for sharing this gem with us.

1 person found this helpful

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Candid and Descriptive

There are moments in this book where it feels like you’re strapping in with Col. Mullane. He’s a great storyteller and delights in sharing his experiences, but never taking himself too seriously.

1 person found this helpful

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Amazing!!

I love this book!! A must read for anyone who has dreamt of being an astronaut.

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  • 02-20-18

Misognynistic

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Perhaps an eighth grade boy, who doesn't have much going for him. Every other paragraph in the book is filled with sexual stories that hold zero interest for someone, who is even a little past puberty.

What was most disappointing about Mike Mullane’s story?

I was so disappointed that there was no inspiring message in this book. Every astronaut biography I've read has left me inspired.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

I thought the narrator did a decent job.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

No. It's so hard to believe that someone so accomplished and educated, could come across so immature. That West Point, could produce a man who spends 18 hours talking about women, and sex, and childish anecdotes....weird.

Any additional comments?

I did find the beginning of the book, when the author is talking about his childhood, the most interesting part of the book.

6 people found this helpful

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Best "Astronauts of the 80s" Memoir"

I read "Riding Rockets" as an ebook several months ago, having given up on it coming out on Audible. Thus I was *thrilled* when, by chance, I found it available after Christmas, and bought it immediately. It's well-written, informative, interesting, infuriating, heart-breaking, and hilarious. I had tears in my eyes several times, both from sorrow and from laughing so hard I was literally crying. I love, love, love this book!

Almost any fan of NASA and space history will enjoy this book. One caveat: I would rate this book as PG-13. Mike was a military pilot from "Planet AD" (Arrested Development). His sense of humour is rather gutter-bound. I liked it, but my sense of humour is pretty base as well. He also recognises that this was decades ago and what was okay then is not so now. In any case, the book is probably not suitable for most kids under ~14 or anyone with...delicate...sensibilities. If dick jokes offend you, I'd strongly advise skipping this book and picking up Clayton Anderson's "Ordinary Spaceman".

(I'd also strongly recommend reading "Spaceman" by Mike Massimino. It is an amazing, wonderful, informative, interesting, and brilliant book. I can't come up with enough superlatives to describe his book. I can say that every person I've recommended, or given, it to - at least twenty - has loved it, and that reading it will make you want to be a better person.)

3 people found this helpful

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Outstanding!

5 stars all around! Mike Mullane tells his story in a very unassuming and entertaining way. As an F4 WSO, from planet AD (Arrested Development) as Mike describes it, he has the funniest stories. I laughed my way through the book. That is until it got serious. And then he was back to his planet AD self describing how Barbara Bush grabbed his @$$!

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I really wanted to enjoy this...

I wanted to enjoy this, but the author was so sexist. It's really disappointing to see a "national hero" act like a bratty, frat boy.