I lay naked on my side on the table in the bathroom of the NASA Flight Medicine Clinic and thrust the enema tip into my anus. "That's how the process of selecting astronauts begins," I thought. It was October 25, 1977. I was one of about 20 men and women undergoing a three-day medical examination program and personal interviews in the process of selecting candidates for astronauts. Almost a year before, NASA announced that it was beginning to accept applications from those wishing to enter the first group of astronauts for flights on shuttles. Eight thousand people responded. The agency brought this whole bale of resumes to about two hundred, and I somehow got into their number in an amazing way. In the following weeks, we all, each of 200, were supposed to be on this gurney and provide our "lower floor" for testing – we were preparing for the study of the intestines.
Brief biographical note
Mike Mullane, an official photo of NASA
Richard Michael "Mike" Mullane was born on September 10, 1945. And when the first Soviet satellite was flying over the USA, it became one of tens of thousands of those who were called by the cosmos. Because of astigmatism, Mike could not be a pilot, and therefore was not suitable for the first selection of astronauts. Nevertheless, he still managed to become a military pilot, but flew by an operator of weapons and did not fly a plane. On his luck, NASA began to make a shuttle, in the crew of which was a place not only for the pilots. Mullein was one of 35 lucky winners selected from 8,000 who applied for the 1978 set, and worked for NASA for 12 years with three flights – STS-41D, STS-27 and STS-36. After leaving NASA, he became a speaker-motivator and, on the basis of NASA disaster and his aviation experience, agitating for safety at work. The book "Riding on a rocket: the revolting stories of the astronaut shuttle" was published in 2006.
I strongly advise reading the first pages of the translation available on the publisher's website, because they perfectly show the general mood and style of the book. Mullein manages to combine the maximum frankness with the unpleasant in some places, and in some places up to the indecency of ridiculous stories with the technical details of aviation and space technology and complements it with the piercing romance of travel and flight with unique slices of American society and NASA. As a result, you get a bright vinaigrette, where you restrain indignation or even vomiting on one page, snort at the next one with laughter, then sympathize with people who are in a difficult situation or even look like a tear for the dead, and the new page opens in all its cosmic bottomlessness. Mullein also does not spare himself, telling about what many would prefer to keep silent about. And, of course, the book describes very well the technical specifics of the Space Shuttle.
There are a lot of aviation and space terms in the book. The translator had to have a technical base (I've seen non-amateur translations of space literature with unimaginable blunders). Therefore it is very good that the translator of the book was the editor of the journal "News of Cosmonautics" Igor Lisov. Further, the English version is not easy to read, because the book contains quite a few realities of American culture without explanation. For us, the Russians, it is not clear who are Cheryl Tiggs, Christy Brinkley or Bo Derek. Therefore, there are a lot of notes in the book – 108 at the end of the book and 205 subpages, which should greatly facilitate the perception.
I do not know if the publishing house made a special intention, but the closeness of the Cosmonautics Day, in my opinion, makes this book very timely.