This Week’s Book Review – The Father, Son, and Holy Shuttle

Looking for a good read? Here is a recommendation. I have an unusual approach to reviewing books. I review books I feel merit a review. Each review is an opportunity to recommend a book. If I do not think a book is worth reading, I find another book to review. You do not have to agree with everything every author has written (I do not), but the fiction I review is entertaining (and often thought-provoking) and the non-fiction contain ideas worth reading.

Book Review

An Astronaut’s Son Tells His Story

By MARK LARDAS

September 6, 2020

“The Father, Son, and Holy Shuttle: Growing Up an Astronaut’s Kid in the Glorious 1980s, by Patrick Mullane, Independently published, 2020, 271 pages, $14.99 (paperback), $3.69 (Kindle e-version)

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, from 1978 through the end 1985, being in the Space Shuttle program was fun. The Shuttle was new and an adventure.

“The Father, Son, and Holy Shuttle: Growing Up an Astronaut’s Kid in the Glorious 1980s,” by Patrick Mullane, tells that story.

Patrick Mullane was ten when his father, Michael Mullane was selected as an astronaut. Patrick’s family settled Houston’s Brook Forest/Middlebrook subdivision. It proved his first permanent home. Before that, military brat Patrick and his family moved virtually every year as his father went from post to post.

Mike Mullane was one of 1978’s “Thirty-Five New Guys”  astronaut class, filling out the astronaut corps as the Shuttle era dawned. (Patrick explains the earthier term used by the astronaut corps for the acronym TFNG). Patrick remained part of the Shuttle scene until going to college in fall 1986. He saw the program from its operational start through the aftermath of the January 1986 Challenger disaster.

Patrick describes growing up in this environment. It was an ordinary life in an extraordinary setting. His astronaut dad, had a glamorous, yet dangerous career. Patrick shared his father’s excitement over his father’s first assigned mission, 41-D, telling how he helped design that mission’s patch. Patrick also describes his fear during the launch abort of his father first flight. It was unclear whether the Shuttle might blow up on the launch pad. He also relates the thrill of having his father in space.

The book focuses on growing up. Patrick lovingly describes his family, a twin and younger sister and parents who loved each other and their children. He recounts adventures with his grandparents and his hobbies and interests. He shared a love of flying with his father, describing learning to fly at his father’s side.

He also talks about going to an industrial-sized high school filled with overachievers. While describing himself as a nerd, he thrived, becoming part of the basketball team, the school’s first male cheerleader, and its class president. He describes the aftermath of the Challenger accident, which killed parents of several classmates.

Occasionally raunchy (any honest memoir of a teen-aged boy would be) but never past PG-13,  “The Father, Son, and Holy Shuttle” charms. It recaptures the thrill of coming of age as part of an adventure. Patrick Mullane describes more innocent time, when boys could simultaneously build models, love flying and chase girls.

Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, historian, and model-maker, lives in League City. He worked in the Shuttle Program at Johnson Space Center from 1979 through 2011.His website is marklardas.com.

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One thought on “This Week’s Book Review – The Father, Son, and Holy Shuttle”

  1. The US Space Scuttle was the Concorde of low Earth orbit, including fiery demise.  Nobody actually knew what  a launch cost amidst debauched managerial paper shuffling.  Russia was aghast at the thing, couldn’t believe it, yet the US kept launching.  They finally built Buran, launched it, and goggled at the utter madness.

    Fun fact:  Sustainably Enviro-recovering and refurbishing SSBs cost  more than building them from scratch.  Splashing into the ocean deformedl the segments out of round.  “Correcting” them left every clevis and tang join leaking…within specs, and therefore harmless.

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