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Book Signing | Eugene Kranz’s “Tough and Competent: Leadership and Team Chemistry”

Thursday, September 14, 2023
6:45 pm
–9:00 pm
*Requires Registration

Location | Space Center Theater

NASA legend Eugene “Gene” Kranz discusses his new book, “Tough and Competent: Leadership and Team Chemistry,” with William Harris, President and CEO of Space Center Houston. In a lively conversation, they will focus on Kranz’s role leading the flight controllers who returned the damaged Apollo 13 spaceship safely back to Earth–and how leadership and team chemistry are essential ingredients to master risk, and control and mitigate issues in a crisis environment.

A book signing follows the conversation and copies of the book will be available to purchase from Space Trader, the Space Center Houston gift shop, along with signed bookplates. Please note the following:

  • To accommodate as many guests as possible, each person will be limited to one (1) book copy signed by Kranz on a first come, first served basis.
  • Only copies of “Tough and Competent” will be signed – no other books or materials.
  • At this time, personalized dedications cannot be accommodated.
  • The book and signed bookplates will be available on-site only during the event.

About “Tough and Competent”

The book “Tough and Competent: Leadership and Team Chemistry,” is the story of building the NASA mission operations teams into a dynasty, capable of thriving in the complex, high-pressure, and unforgiving environment of manned spaceflight.

“Tough and Competent” is the journal of how NASA mission operations emerged from a group of novices, part-time controllers in Mercury Control who by 1969, had matured into hardened engineers. On July 20, 1969, in preparation for landing, the control room doors were locked. They would not be reopened until the landing was aborted, the crew had crashed, or landed safely on the lunar surface. At touchdown, only 17 seconds of fuel remained.

Mission Operations is the “First Responder in Spaceflight, crises are the norm in our work. When the Skylab program experienced a critical launch structural failure, the mission control team flew the Skylab by ground command for a week, until a “parasol” device was invented to replace the lost thermal shroud, saving the program.

The 1986 Challenger accident was a crisis within a crisis demanding leadership and IT! – to find and fix space shuttle problems; adapt to changing top-level leadership; respond to a Time magazine “whistleblower” claiming the flight software was “unsafe”; complete a contract consolidation with five thousand employees changing companies, while addressing congressional leaders demanding near-term answers in public hearings regarding schedule pressure while planning for returning to flight.

About Gene Kranz

Eugene “Gene” Kranz is best known as leader of the “Tiger Team” flight controllers who returned the damaged Apollo 13 spaceship safely back to Earth. He was portrayed by Ed Harris in the 1995 movie Apollo 13. His first book, “Failure Is Not An Option,” was a New York Times Best Seller and was selected by the History Channel for a 2004 documentary. Born and raised in Toledo, Ohio, Kranz holds a BS in Aeronautical Engineering from Parks College of Saint Louis University. He flew as a USAF fighter pilot in Korea and served as a flight test engineer on the Boeing B-52 before joining NASA in 1960. Assigned as a flight director in Gemini, he led the controller team for America’s first lunar landing in 1969. In 1983, Kranz was assigned as Director for all aspects of manned spaceflight operations overseeing a workforce of more than 5,000. Kranz has received numerous awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and is enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame. He and his wife Marta are the parents of six children and live in Dickinson, Texas.


This program is free but registration is required. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis in Space Center Theater. Please note: This book signing takes place at Space Center Houston after regular operating hours. Registration does not include general admission.

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