Contents

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pp. ix-ix

List of Illustrations

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pp. x-x

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Foreword

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pp. xi-xvi

Thirty years ago, when I was identified as an astronaut, as often as not the first question I was asked was, “Which one are you?” I was asked that question hundreds of times but was only quick enough to come up with the best answer one time: “I’m this one!” ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xvii-xx

It would not have been possible to write a book containing so many personal stories without the full assistance and cooperation of a number of key participants in the space program. Many have been interviewed hundreds of times over the decades; others have chosen never to tell their stories in this form before. ...

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1. Gemini Raises the Bar

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pp. 1-55

By the end of July 1961 Gus Grissom knew that, barring unforeseen circumstances, he would not fly again in the Mercury program. One of America's original Mercury 7 astronauts, Grissom had just commanded his country's second manned space mission. The flight went well until the very end, when the hatch of Liberty Bell 7 unexpectedly blew off, and the spacecraft was lost to the ocean. ...

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2. A Rendezvous in Space

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pp. 56-89

As a test pilot, Wally Schirra knows that almost every space mission from the mid-1960s until the present day has relied on one thing: the ability of two spacecraft to find each other in orbit. Without such a capability, there could have been no moon landings, no space stations—in short, no space program. ...

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3. The Ballet of Weightlessness

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pp. 90-139

It had taken eight Gemini missions to achieve, but it seemed that rendezvous and docking was now, if not perfected, at least understood. Rendezvous and docking still had a critical role to play in the final four Gemini missions, but now there was another function that the astronauts had to master: spacewalking. ...

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4. The Risk Stuff

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pp. 140-183

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Roger Chaffee, aged thirty-one, was a fresh-faced, darkhaired, and introspective young man, known jokingly but respectfully around the astronaut office as “The Rookie.” His senior crew members, Gus Grissom and Ed White, had distinguished themselves on earlier space missions, and he was joining them on the first manned flight of the Apollo spacecraft. ...

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5. The Astronaut Enigma

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pp. 184-246

The three crew members selected to fly Apollo 7 spent most of 1967 and early 1968 in Downey, California, working with the improved version of the Apollo command module. They pushed the engineers hard, looking for every possible weakness, every possible improvement. The engineers, however, did not need to be pushed; they were determined ...

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6. Starting Over

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pp. 247-284

It is rare for parents to bring a new child into the world and not hope anything but the best for them. Most mothers and fathers naturally want to help their children have a bright, happy future, free of any unnecessary obstacles. Any Soviet citizen with a new child in the early 1930s, however, must have paused and wondered if this would ever be possible. Under the dictatorship of Joseph Stalin ...

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7. Leaving the Good Earth

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pp. 285-327

The house looks simple and modest from the street—a thoughtfully designed but not overly ornate front garden, an American flag, and a wooden deck with an exquisite view over the Pacific Ocean. Though the neighborhood is a desirable one—you have to possess a good deal of money to live there—it is not snobbish. ...

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8. A Test Pilot’s Dream

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pp. 328-366

Frank Borman was a deservedly satisfied man. The Apollo 8 mission had been an outstanding achievement, successful beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. As he set off on a postmission world tour, Borman knew they had done something of tremendous importance in the Apollo program. Even as they were fulfilling the global public relations duties, the crew’s mission photos were undergoing ...

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9. The Highest Mountain

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pp. 367-410

Once again humans stood poised to leave Earth orbit, this time on a mission of vastly increased complexity. Apollo 8 had successfully tested the cm in lunar orbit, and the crew of Apollo 9 had run the LM through its paces in Earth orbit. This next mission would combine the hardware and software components with the skills, experience, ...

Epilogue

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pp. 411-412

References

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pp. 413-427