Dragonfly: An Epic Adventure of Survival in Outer Space

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9780060932695: Dragonfly: An Epic Adventure of Survival in Outer Space

In this riveting account of the ill-fated American missions to MIR, bestselling author Bryan Burrough tells the incredible true story of how a joint Russian-American crew narrowly survived almost every trauma an astronaut could imagine: fire, power blackouts, chemical leaks, docking failures, nail-biting spacewalks and constant mechanical breakdowns, all climaxing in a dramatic midspace collision that left everyone on board scrambling for their lives.

Based on hundreds of hours of interviews with the cosmonauts, astronauts, Russian and American ground controllers, psychologists, and scientists involved, Drangonfly is the saga of a mission as fraught with political and bureaucraticintrigues as any Washington potboiler.

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Review:

Bryan Burrough, coauthor of the bestselling Barbarians at the Gate, has a talent for reworking factual accounts so they read like first-rate thrillers. Dragonfly: NASA and the Crisis Aboard Mir is overwhelming in its scope and breadth of detail, culled from one-on-one interviews and transcripts of recorded conversations between the astronauts and cosmonauts on Mir and Russian Mission Control. Burrough delves deeply into the personal and professional lives of the 11 people who lived aboard Mir from 1995 to 1998. What we soon discover is simultaneously disheartening and fascinating: the men and women who would be astronauts must run a gauntlet of hazings, are judged professionally on their personal lives, and win flight assignments through serendipity as often as through hard work. NASA is controlled by cliques and cults of personality: "People don't speak out, because George makes short work of you if you do.... If you get on his bad side, you won't get a flight assignment...." There are "issues dealing with training and the selection of crews that you don't dare speak up about." The down-to-the-last-bolt descriptions of life aboard the station, from what the air smells like to an explanation of "penguin suits" to the distance between the dinner table and the original, now seldom-used toilet--2 feet--will thrill space enthusiasts. Space may not be "where no man has gone before" anymore, but it nevertheless provides endless dream fodder for those of us left behind on Earth. --Jhana Bach

About the Author:

Bryan Burrough is a special correspondent at Vanity Fair magazine in New York. A former Wall Street Journal reporter, he is the coauthor of the number one New York Times bestseller Barbarians at the Gate. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, Marla, and their two young sons.

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