The Right Kind of Crazy

  • by Adam Steltzner, William Patrick
  • Narrated by Christopher Grove
  • 7 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The true story of how an unlikely leader helped inspire a team of rocket scientists to achieve the near impossible: landing a 2000-pound rover on Mars.
Few organizations solve as many impossible problems as NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and nobody knows more about leading rocket scientists to unlikely breakthroughs than Adam Steltzner.
As the phase lead and development manager for EDL (entry, descent, and landing) of the Curiosity rover to Mars, Steltzner spearheaded the creation of one of engineering's wackiest kluges - the sky crane, which allowed the heaviest rover in the history of space exploration to land on Mars unscathed.
Steltzner is no ordinary engineer. His path to leadership was about as unlikely as they come. A child of beatnik parents, he was a daredevil and avid mountain biker, breaking 32 bones before squeaking through high school. He blew off college in favor of work at a health food store and playing bass in a band. After an interest in the movement of the stars led him to enroll part time at community college, Steltzner discovered an astonishing gift for math and physics. Within years he got his PhD and ensconced himself within the offbeat Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA's decidedly unbureaucratic cousin, where success in a mission is the only metric that matters.
The Right Kind of Crazy is the story of the teamwork, drama, and extraordinary feats of innovation at the Jet Propulsion Lab that culminated in landing the rover Curiosity on Mars in 2012. It also weaves Steltzner's professional life - centering on the 10 years he and his team spent planning and then executing the landing of the rover - with his unlikely journey from academic underachiever to rocket scientist.
Along the way listeners will learn about what makes effective teams, how to stay on task for the long haul, and strategies for solving incredibly complex problems. The Right Kind of Crazy is a book for anyone striving for excellence.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Wasn't what I was hoping.

I'd give this book a solid "C-" rating overall. I picked it up hoping it'd be an exciting story primarily about the team, the decisions, and the process of how a complex NASA mission comes together.

The book had some of that, but not enough. There's a fair amount of biography that felt a bit unnecessary, arrogant, or seemed forced (like what motivational quites he claims to have written on his college physics exam equation sheets). Parts seem contradictory (bashing what he calls transition points from NASA Langley, but never seems to acknowledge his own designs had 100 transition points, etc.). Overall, the book came across too similar to a politician, who wrote a book to "write down his version of history."

Perhaps I'm biased. As a scientist who's got no current connection to NASA, I was hoping to pick up a book that'll turn my eyes to the heavens in wonder. I almost stopped listening when it became clear that feeling would never come.
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- Amazon Customer

Very interesting with practical advice

Very rarely does story telling and leadership lessons come through in one book. Adam put it all together and ignited a passion for the engineer in me to challenge my curiosity.
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- Danny M.

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-12-2016
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio