Reading Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys – rading–

Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's JourneysReissued With A New Preface By The Author On The Fiftieth Anniversary Of The Apollo Journey To The MoonThe Years That Have Passed Since Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, And Michael Collins Piloted The Apollo Spacecraft To The Moon In July Have Done Nothing To Alter The Fundamental Wonder Of The Event Man Reaching The Moon Remains One Of The Great Events Technical And Spiritual Of Our LifetimeIn Carrying The Fire, Collins Conveys, In A Very Personal Way, The Drama, Beauty, And Humor Of That Adventure He Also Traces His Development From His First Flight Experiences In The Air Force, Through His Days As A Test Pilot, To His Apollo Space Walk, Presenting An Evocative Picture Of The Joys Of Flight As Well As A New Perspective On Time, Light, And Movement From Someone Who Has Seen The Fragile Earth From The Other Side Of The Moon

Reading Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys  – rading–
  • Paperback
  • 528 pages
  • Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys
  • Michael Collins
  • English
  • 28 October 2019
  • 9780374537760

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About the Author: Michael Collins

See this thread for information. 2 Astronaut Michael Collins is a former American astronaut and test pilot Selected as part of the third group of fourteen astronauts in 1963, he flew in space twice His first spaceflight was Gemini 10, in which he and command pilot John Young performed two rendezvous with different spacecraft and Collins undertook two EVAs His second spaceflight was as the command module pilot for Apollo 11 While he orbited the Moon, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made the first manned landing on the lunar surface.

10 thoughts on “Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys

  1. says:

    Superb.Here is the book to convince every fourteen year old that a sound practical knowledge of the language of maths and engineering is both enormously exciting and career liberating How very different our world would be today if we employed many research engineers in which I include test pilots turned astronauts than self obsessed bankers This is a book to read and re read This is a book I cherish.This is not merely a book on how Man realised his dream of landing on our Moon Instead it is a description of how an awesome number of skilled people came and successfully worked together to realise an expensive political and technological dream I learnt something too about Project Mercury, the predecessor of Gemini and Apollo and by happy chance a few days ago picked up a copy of Into Orbit written by the Mercury Seven astronauts in a second hand bookshop.Relatively early on Collins hilariously describes the wondrous training he received in the geology of Earth rocks, and in personal survival techniques I was entirely unable to read this section without sniggers of suppressed, and hoots of open, laughter Hilarity eventually subsided, whereupon I discovered space to soberly consider the very real difficulties of actually defining training for the unknown and unexpected I was deeply moved by Collins sensitive, considerate and factually concise discussion of the horrendous spacecraft fire in January 1967 aboard Apollo 1 on the launch pad at Cape Kennedy which killed Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee Collins was deeply affected by the realisation that everyone had overlooked such an obvious risk combustible oxygen inside the spacecraft at 16psi slightly above atmospheric pressure , and had thus not been evaluated As throughout his book, Collins is realistic and mature in recognising the human tendency to react by laying blame, before maturity and sense muscle in to define and solve the problem However, achingly and tellingly, he succinctly speaks of the dismal months of early 1967 , proving that few words carry meaning than many In chapter 11 Collins describes how essential training on a simulator was to the success of space flight It is vitally important nowadays to remember that this was 1960s bathtub technology punched cards, a budget of millions of dollars, and hundreds of maintenance technicians working in three shifts He dryly remarks that at times it seemed easier to fly the actual spaceship Later on Collins, Armstrong, and Aldrin are as equally amazed as each other by the perfection in accuracy achieved by the operational system in placing them in a near circular lunar orbit Such childish and simple joy is infectious.Collins could have chosen to keep a tight technical focus in his description of the flight of Apollo 11 mission He intelligently does not do so instead opting to draw the attention of his reader to what this extraordinary mission meant to other earth bound members of the human population Any list of the off beat examples must surely include Houston s reading of the daily news to the astronauts On 20th July 1969 this included an instruction to look out for a beautiful Chinese girl called Chang O who four thousand years previously had been banished, accompanied by a rabbit, to the Moon Her crime had been to steal the secret of immortality from her husband The rabbit was claimed to be easy to spot because he always stood upright on his hind legs, under the shade of a cinnamon tree Collins masterly desists from directly pouring cold water on such an absurdity he instead applies the art of diplomatic prioritisation deciding that the simultaneous purge of a fuel cell, setting up a camera brackets, and monitoring an auto manoeuvre really do require his full attention above and over that of spotting a rabbit Shades of the 1950 film Harvey , starring James Stewart, perhaps Whether Armstrong and Aldrin kept a weather eye open for the Moon rabbit is rightly not recorded Overall, this book is a supreme narrative of technological achievement and human wonderment in hardware, software, and man ware and I include women and children within that last term Alone in Columbia, behind the Moon out of contact with Earth, Armstrong and Aldrin, Collins describes his absolute isolation I feel this powerfully not as fear or loneliness but as awareness, anticipation, satisfaction, confidence, almost exultation I like the feeling pg 402 If I had read those words before reading this book I should not have understood what he meant But now I think I may do Michael Collins is multilingual He communicates in written English supremely well How many men and women of letters possess a comparable ability to express themselves in the fields and languages of science and engineering It s a rare combination Collins is also a remarkably modest man, blessed with both a firm sense of responsibility and the most wonderful dry sense of humour He is a true team player, but, importantly, one whose maturity, skills and talents fully justify his personal sense of worth and purpose Every school library in Britain ought to possess a copy of this book.

  2. says:

    Collins notes early on in this book that he chose to eschew the services of a ghostwriter, apologizing that the prose will not be as polished as a result It was a wise choice.Collins voice is friendly and straightforward, eminently likeable He has little interest in delving into deep psychological analysis or talking much at all about his personal life, choosing instead to focus on his path, and NASA s, to the moon Self deprecating humor and a profound appreciation for the contributions of the people surrounding him keeps the tone light and prevents any trace of boasting as he recounts a remarkable career The details really are fascinating I knew a lot of the history, having been an enormous space buff as a child, but there s a difference in hearing it from a personal perspective The Apollo 1 fire, for example, skips any of the gruesome descriptions that other works have lingered on these were people he knew well and Collins has no interest in describing their deaths in detail His perspective is that of the only person available to drive out and tell one of the dead men s wives before she can hear it from the media It brings a different perspective.Other details are just amusing I d known that the astronauts were quarantined upon their return I had not realized they were essentially loaded up in a shipping container with a big window and shipped, flown, and finally driven home by flatbed truck like a cargo of zoo animals It was a hilarious image.Some technical details are discussed, but only to give context to conversations Politics is ignored almost completely, as is most of the situation with the Russians And if you re looking for deep insights into the personalities of Collins and his fellow adventurers, you ll find little direct information here As Collins himself points out, if they had wanted emoting on cue, they shouldn t have picked test pilots Collins himself writes like what he is an intelligent, practical man who was perfectly suited to keep a calm head and somewhat less suited to wax rhapsodic He also expresses a classic Playboy style appreciation for attractive women and martinis that s somewhat startling these days, but the book was written in the 70s, after all But he also sells himself a bit short, self deprecating as always this work is engaging, articulate, endearing, and ultimately fascinating.

  3. says:

    This is probably the best non fictional book I ve ever read On nearly five hundred elated, honest, vivid and detail filled pages Michael Collins wraps up his brilliant career as a USAF test pilot, engineer and NASA astronaut on both the Gemini 10 and Apollo 11 missions Being very humble, Collins confesses that he thinks he never possessed extreme talent or expertise in any of the necessary fields of becoming an astronaut I m sure he did though , and that his career was rather an excellent throw of the dice, having a lot of luck throughout two decades, even when unfortunate occasions came his way like spinal surgery just before his designated first flight with Apollo 9, shifting him to Apollo 11 The greatest parts are when the reader is taken aboard his two space flights, on Gemini 10 in 1966 including a difficult EVA and orbital docking , and eventually on humanity s biggest stunt in history, the 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the Moon where Collins piloted the command service module Columbia , solo orbiting while Aldrin and Armstrong touched down on the surface with Eagle Collins shows his excellent command of bringing down those events to paper and by including both technical details like orbital mechanics and the depth of emotions he was going through, thus making the book a fascinating and precious read The author also sheds light on the philosophical side of humanity s space exploration, including many pages of his own thoughts about the world in 1974, back when he wrote the book Many of those thoughts and gentle warnings about fossil fuels and human waste have become a reality, and the book is as relevant today as it has ever been Highly readable, a classic for both the technically interested and anyone looking for pure inspiration to achieve in life Collins honesty throughout the book is what makes it so remarkable One of my favourite passages is within the closing chapter of the book It is perhaps a pity that my eyes have seen than my brain has been able to assimilate or evaluate, but like the Druids of Stonehenge, I have attempted to bring order out of what I have observed, even if I have not understood it fully.

  4. says:

    Excellent, intimate account of humanity s greatest achievement.

  5. says:

    If You Read Just One Book By An Astronaut, Make It This OneI am a space buff and have read many good accounts of the space program, including Andrew Chaikin s amazing A Man on the Moon, which should be required reading for everyone interested in these genera As for books written by astronauts, Carrying the Fire An Astronaut s Journeys by Michael Collins is probably the best I have read along with Jim Lovell s Lost Moon, aka Apollo 13 An important point to make right off the bat is that Collins had no co author on this project as many do He did it all himself, and let me tell you, he can write.Michael Collins, for those of you who don t know, was the third astronaut on Apollo 11, the one who stayed up and flew the command module while Neil and Buzz got all the press making the first moon landing Some may think that the Command Module Pilot got the short end of the stick because he didn t actually get to land on the moon, but Collins doesn t see it that way I know that I would be a liar or a fool if I said that I have the best of the three Apollo 11 seats, but I can say with truth and equanimity that I am perfectly satisfied with the one I have This venture has been structured for three men, and I consider my third to be as necessary as either of the other two He probably could have stuck around after Apollo 11 and walked on the moon as Commander on Apollo 17, but his experiences on Apollo 11 and Gemini 10 were enough, and he was content to walk away.I particularly enjoyed the behind the scenes look at things you don t usually see in the space program, such as the frustrations of training, quarantine before and after the mission, honest personal and humanizing views of other astronauts, and dealing with the often overwhelming worldwide public relations required by the job.Collins is funny and self deprecating When asked what he was thinking about while Neil and Buzz were making history walking on the moon, he replied, I just kept reminding myself that every single component in this spacecraft was provided by the guy who submitted the cheapest tender Collins makes everything interesting, from his early career in the Air Force, through the early astronaut selection process from which he was rejected , to his work in the development of the Gemini and Apollo EVA suits and the little old ladies tasked to hand glue the pieces together in the David Clark Company factory in Worcester, Massachusetts.There is an especially interesting section where Collins and Dave Scott are sent to the Paris Air Show in May, 1967 There, at the height of the space race and cold war with the USSR, they meet and find much in common with the competition, Soviet cosmonauts Pavel Belyaev and Konstantin Feoktistov In Belyaev we found a kindred spirit I liked him, and I would have flown with him These are honest and courageous words for a man of Collins stature to put into print in 1974 Open encounters like these may have helped lay the foundation for the joint U.S Russia International Space Station missions we have today.What really sets this book apart from other astronaut books are Collins intelligent, candid, and self depreciating observations about astronaut life no chest beating here , and the breathless minute by minute accounts of both his Gemini 10 and Apollo 11 missions I wasn t too familiar with Gemini 10, and was fascinated by his interactions with John Young, their two rendezvous with two different Agena Target Vehicles, and Collins two EVAs For the EVAs, he has to maneuver using a nitrogen gun and practices while standing on a disk in a space the size of a boxing ring set up like an air hockey table For his first EVA he stands up in the Gemini cockpit with the doors open and feels like a Roman god riding the skies in his chariot His second EVA is successful, but Collins makes no bones about how dicey it actually is He applies to NASA for travel reimbursement after the flight and receives a grand total of 24.While alone circling the moon in the Command module of Apollo 11, he knows he is alone in a way no other human has ever been before Not only does he have to be prepared for his role in the mission, but he also has to train to make it back to Earth alone in case of the very real possibility that Neil and Buzz do not make it back from the moon alive When he circles to the dark side of the moon alone, he is truly alone I am alone now, truly alone, and absolutely isolated from any known life I am it If a count were taken, the score would be three billion plus two over on the other side of the moon, and one plus God only knows what on this side I feel this powerfully not as fear or loneliness but as awareness, anticipation, satisfaction, confidence, almost exultation I like the feeling Collins speaks frankly about the difficulty some astronauts have, upon their return, of preventing the rest of their lives from being an anticlimax There is also the temptation of easy money There is money hanging around, but it is tainted PR money, trading great piles of greenbacks for tiny bits of soul, in an undetermined but unsatisfactory ratio For example, I have been offered 50,000 to do beer commercials, and I love beer, but somehow it seems a grubby thing to do So I remain flat broke, and I rationalize it by saying that it is a good thing, that it forces me to focus on the future, and that it keeps me lean and hungry in my outlook This, in a world today where many young people don t even know what selling out means.Michael Collins is a man of integrity, insight, and humility often lacking in today s public figures Carrying the Fire is excellent It is well written, moving, engaging, funny, and very personal If you read just one book by an astronaut, make it this one Very highly recommended.

  6. says:

    Out of the several NASA related books I ve read, this was my favorite It was written in 1974, so the subject matter of space flight was a lot fresher on Collins s mind compared to a lot of NASA biographies that were written in the 2000s I think that gives the book a lively feel than other biographies, since the Apollo program had just wound down and he could still recall things vividly And Collins wrote it without a ghostwriter, which is pretty impressive since his writing is very good He s also surprisingly funny He gives a lot of insight into the personalities of the other astronauts and he isn t shy about giving his opinions about them I knew next to nothing about Collins other than the obvious things before reading this, but it s written so well that I now have a better grasp on his personality and experiences than I do for any other astronaut or any other historical figure for that matter I give it five waning gibbous moons out of five.

  7. says:

    One of the first, and still the best, of the astronaut books matter of fact, funny, precise, and whimsical, all in one A must read for any space enthusiast.

  8. says:

    An educational, inspiring read.Michael Collins never set out to be an Astronaut, or make history, but he did and he did it with determination, humor and a Rocket named Apollo XI.This book was written when everything we know about Space today, wasn t known then There was no ISS, there was no high tech laptops and colorful video cameras Mobile phones today have advancements than Space did in those times Yet they managed to send Astronauts to the moon, than once Everything back then was new, undiscovered, and spending than weeks in Space was unheard of, unlike today.When I picked up this book and despite the great reviews written about it I was still hesitant to read it, not because it was another Astronaut autobiography but because it may be filled with terminology I didn t understand, and it was, however, Mike wrote in a way that made these big, unfamiliar words along with phrases easy to understand, he explained everything with precise attention to detail, even words you think wouldn t need explaining It s not rare to find an honest autobiography but it s rare to find an honest autobiography that wasn t filled with malice or spite Everyone is curious as to what goes on, and Mike gave us that in a humorous, tactful way I found him to be humble.A recommended read, especially to those who are hesitant to pick up a Space book.

  9. says:

    Carrying the Fire is the memoir of Michael Collins, who was command module pilot on Apollo 11, the first human lunar landing mission More than forty years after its first publication, it is still the gold standard of Apollo astronaut bios Collins has a real feel for writing, compared with his colleagues, most of whom have written very dryly It is also worth noting that Collins is one of the very few astronauts maybe the only one who wrote without the need for a collaborator He was known in the astronaut corps for his casual professionalism Collins is frequently witty, funny, self deprecating, and he s unafraid to level withering criticisms at some of the madness of being an astronaut His description of an astronaut s worst nightmare going around the country on speaking gigs to promote the space program, which he calls being in the barrel is especially memorable.Collins is the astronaut who wrote that he and his test pilot brethren were ill suited to be the public faces needed to communicate the thrills and beauty of being in space he thought that job would be better off in the hands of priests, poets and philosophers But of course, Collins puts it so much eloquently than I can muster.He also shares, with his characteristic candor but not a hint of melancholy, his unprecedented isolation while his Apollo 11 crewmates journeyed to the lunar surface As he circled the moon alone in the command module Columbia, Collins was further from human contact than any person had ever been in history He also understood that if a critical emergency stranded his crewmates on the moon, it would have been his duty to leave them and come home alone a monumental task he says he was prepared to do.The only other astronaut bios that come anywhere close to Collins are Walter Cunningham s gossipy The All American Boys and from the space shuttle era, Mike Mullane s frat boyish Riding Rockets If you re looking to find out what makes astronauts tick, you could read all three of those, along with Tom Wolfe s essential treatise The Right Stuff, and I think you ll have a very good understanding of what it means to be an astronaut especially one from the old school But don t miss Collins There s none better among his peers.

  10. says:

    While this was written several decades ago it feels timeless and important Not many people could say they ve been to space, or the moon, or orbited the moon by themselves at times the only human in the universe to be on the dark side of the moon while their companions were walking on its gray sands I could say I wanted I don t know what , maybe introspection, or poetry but really for what this is I m wholly satisfied I like the stark honesty and detail Collins uses to describe NASA, other astronauts he worked with, even his own somewhat pompous habits of thought that he pokes at with subtle humor I can t get enough of astronaut memoirs right now and I think part of that is due to them being both extremely exciting having an experience and a perspective few could ever imagine and being written clearly by the actual astronauts and not some editor or ghost writer as is the case for many celebrities and politicians making books these days Collins was a military man, an astronaut, and yet also a well spoken scholar as is apparent with his words when he describes the feeling of being content never to return to space I feel like he probably read some Hemingway to polish up before typing it out And he s still alive today a fascinating portrait of a space man.There s one point in the book where he says unapologetically that he was glad there were no women astronauts at the time because it would be too complicated well going to the moon is complicated so this is nonsense I wish he d retracted that sentiment Other than that I like most of his meandering thoughts.

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