First edition of Flight: My Life in Mission Control; Warmly inscribed by Chris Kraft
Flight: My Life in Mission Control.
Item Number: 5506
New York: Dutton, 2001.
First edition. Octavo, original half cloth. Fine in a fine dust jacket. Inscribed by the author on the half title page, “Best regards to Mary Crocker One of the great contributors to the success of manned spaceflight Chris Kraft.”
Besides the astronauts, Kraft was one of NASA's best-known personalities in the agency's heroic decade of the 1960s, once making the cover of Time. The blunt-speaking demeanor that made Kraft popular with the press is fully present in his memoir, in which he lets fly about various instances of his dissatisfaction with the performance of an astronaut, engineer, or contractor. Such dirty-laundry airing, verboten at the time by the publicity-conscious NASA, is one reason for space-history buffs to flock to Kraft's narrative, but the principal attraction is how he ramped up from scratch the flight control operation for Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. When Sputnik beeped the U.S. into a panic, Kraft was an engineer at the obscure National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), quickly revamped as NASA. Tapped by the unsung organizer of manned flight, Robert Gilruth, to establish what became Mission Control, Kraft directed the early flights, whose participants he critiques by his lights as a no-nonsense engineer. His key role and frankness of recollection make Kraft a worthy memoirist of pioneering space flight.