Rocketman: Astronaut Pete Conrad's Incredible Ride to the Moon and Beyond

Rocketman: Astronaut Pete Conrad's Incredible Ride to the Moon and Beyond

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For Pete Conrad, it was all about the ride.

Whether he was flat-hatting fifty feet off the deck going Mach 2, test-flying every supersonic jet the Navy developed (including some they shouldn't have), orbiting the Earth at almost 20,000 mph, or just redlining his Corvette on a country road outside Houston, he loved pushing the envelope.

Still, he wasn't exactly the squeaky-clean poster boy NASA astronaut. He wasn't tall, dark, and movie-star handsome. He spoke his mind - especially to the men in the white coats who tried to turn him into a lab rat and grounded him as "unsuitable for long-duration flight" when he pushed back.

But they didn't call Pete Conrad the Comeback Kid for nothing. As a boy, he bounced back from his family's financial calamity by sweeping up at a local airfield for a couple of bucks a day - and learned to fly. He overcame dyslexia, landed a Navy scholarship to Princeton, and became one of the country's elite test pilots at Patuxent River. And he learned a hard lesson when he washed out of the Mercury program, only to come roaring back - flying two Gemini missions, walking on the Moon as commander of Apollo 12, commanding the first Skylab, and working to develop the first reusable commercial rocket, logging more time in space than all the original astronauts combined.

This is a surprisingly candid insider's view of the greatest ride in history: America's glorious race to the stars, as seen through the eyes of a real space cowboy.