Author Topic: Mike Mullane's book, Riding Rockets  (Read 363 times)

Offline Ranb

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Mike Mullane's book, Riding Rockets
« on: October 17, 2019, 01:56:17 AM »
I read Mullane's book, Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut.  It is different than other astronaut biographies I've read recently.  It is certainly the most irreverent biography from an astronaut I've ever read.

I was surprised to read the unkind words he had for John Young (chief astronaut) and George Abbey (director of flight operations) in the late 1970's while training for his first shuttle flight.  Mullane also went into detail about his changing attitudes towards astronauts without military backgrounds, especially females.  Mullane is or was a self admitted male chauvinist from, in his words, the "planet of arrested development" (AD).  The description of the complete turnaround in his attitude towards female astronauts and women in general was interesting to read.

Also interesting was the attitude towards some of the payload specialists that were jockeying for a free ride to space when the job could be better accomplished by a real astronaut.  Mullane was especially unhappy with politicians (Garn Nelson and Glenn) who used their influence to get a ride.

I learned more about Judith Resnik from this book than any other source. The book gave me more insight into the lives of astronauts than any other I have read.  Whether it is true or not, I don't know.  But it was an interesting read.

Ranb

Offline Zakalwe

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Re: Mike Mullane's book, Riding Rockets
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2019, 08:36:36 AM »
It's a great read! I've read it a couple of times and always enjoyed it. He was very open and honest especially in his personal transformation into a more inclusive person. Scathing about George Abbey and John Young and if even a tiny fraction of it is true then it's a perfect example of a toxic environment being created by a small clique. Higher management should have stamped that behaviour out.
It's also very funny in places....Mullane sounds like he'd be a right laugh at a party!
"The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.' " - Isaac Asimov

Offline Ranb

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Re: Mike Mullane's book, Riding Rockets
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2019, 08:55:38 AM »
I wonder if it is possible to get a copy of the CapCom phone recording he was talking about?  :)

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Mike Mullane's book, Riding Rockets
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2019, 05:53:17 PM »
It was interesting but he came across as a real jerk, as did many of the other astronauts, a bunch of cowboys.

Offline Glom

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Re: Mike Mullane's book, Riding Rockets
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2019, 07:08:29 AM »
I read this some years ago. Definitely the funniest of the astronaut bios. Collins is still the best.

I thought the bits around Challenger were particularly good.

Offline mako88sb

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Re: Mike Mullane's book, Riding Rockets
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2019, 01:18:46 PM »
Among other things already mentioned was being a bit shocked to find out the astronaut families were on their own when it came to finding accommodations if/when a launch abort meant an overnight stay. It's been awhile since I read it and I can't recall the exact circumstances his family went through but it seemed they were ill-prepared when his mission was scrubbed with a launch-pad abort.

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Mike Mullane's book, Riding Rockets
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2019, 02:41:25 AM »
It's a great read! I've read it a couple of times and always enjoyed it. He was very open and honest especially in his personal transformation into a more inclusive person. Scathing about George Abbey and John Young and if even a tiny fraction of it is true then it's a perfect example of a toxic environment being created by a small clique. Higher management should have stamped that behaviour out.
It's also very funny in places....Mullane sounds like he'd be a right laugh at a party!

I think the whole astronaut culture in the books comes across as toxic.  Mullane's sexist attitude to women ("snort their flanks"), hostility to civilian astronauts, mission and payload specialists in general,and the unregulated and unauthorised dog fights in T-33s is all rather horrific. He would appear to be part of the problem, not the solution.  Sometimes he seems apologetic, but it is clear he went along with all of it.

Of course, this is his account.  Other contemporary astronaut (Ross, Matessino) bios say nothing about this.  He may just be a big mouth big noting himself.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2019, 02:45:09 AM by Dalhousie »

Offline Ranb

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Re: Mike Mullane's book, Riding Rockets
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2019, 04:39:52 PM »
As a former submariner I can truthfully say that the masculine culture in the sub force during the cold war was rather toxic in some ways.  The introduction of females to the sub force has improved it.

What he said about attitudes towards females was not surprising to me at all; but his description of a catholic school's attitude towards the position of women in society was.

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Mike Mullane's book, Riding Rockets
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2019, 06:21:23 PM »
As a former submariner I can truthfully say that the masculine culture in the sub force during the cold war was rather toxic in some ways.  The introduction of females to the sub force has improved it.

What he said about attitudes towards females was not surprising to me at all; but his description of a catholic school's attitude towards the position of women in society was.

I think a greater proportion of women in the workplace has been a good thing.  Never been in the military but drillers, sailors, miners, etc. can be rather rough, to say the least.  The more women in the workplace the better in my experience, made the work environment much better.  But the first cohort that do so go through hell.