Book Review: "The Mission: A True Story"

"The Mission: A True Story" By David W. Brown: A Review

"To most people outside of NASA, a space mission that is making the news often appears out of nowhere. Sometimes there may be a little news when it is launched and maybe some tidbits along the way. Otherwise, when it does something cool - like land on a planet or sends back pretty pictures, you hear about it albeit with no back story. For a moment NASA gets a sugar high and then ... nothing - unless the mission makes a big discovery down the road. 

Yes, NASA puts out newsy things with factoids and status reports, but for most people, these missions just seem to happen. But where did the mission come from, people may wonder. Whose idea was it? Who are those people jumping up and down in the control room? Were there other ways to do the mission? Did someone want to go somewhere else instead? Did everyone agree or were there arguments? And by the way, where did that mission's name come from anyway?

"The Mission" by David W. Brown takes a rather unorthodox look into the backstory of space missions by focusing on one in particular: the mission currently known as Europa Clipper. Brown documents how this mission came to be, the iterations and name changes it went through, the internal gyrations among program managers, budgeteers, scientists, and politicians, but most importantly, the people. Yes, while the spacecraft are usually the stars of the show, this expensive, shiny hardware is simply a reflection of a team of humans putting their mind toward a distant task -  while swatting off other humans who would seek to deter them from their task "

Full review

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on April 12, 2021 9:22 AM.

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