The Making of an Ex-Astronaut

by Brian O’Leary. Houghton Mifflin. $5.95. Moved by a yen to examine Mars, Mr. O’Leary, an astronomer, volunteered for the astronaut program. He hoped to get closer to his planet. What he did get was a lot of military gung ho, suppression of his scientific work, life in Houston (a city about which he becomes malignantly eloquent) , and orders to learn jet flying, which he confesses scared him witless. He calculated, after some months in training, that the scientific aspects of the space program run a long second to the production of hardware, including medals. He resigned himself to the telescope, and quit. Even allowing for normal civilian bias and personal aversion to the T-38, Mr. O’Leary cites considerable evidence to support his charges of “nonscience” and “operational overkill.”