Beginning with a Naderesque tale of a space capsule--the Apollo 204--that was unsafe at any speed (particularly the speed at which the mission was pushed ahead), two science reporters take on the Space Establishment. The authors launch their account with the shocking story of the 1966 Apollo fire, in which NASA's haste and neglect took the lives of three astronauts. (Item: at the time of the disaster, no workable firefighting equipment was at the test site, and the rescue crew was on a coffee break). They go on to criticize agency officials for enriching their budget by selling the public on a patriotic ""space race"" with the Russians, and the Defense Department for devising some rather sinister top secret military uses for space research. Nothing that NASA, again basking in public and Congressional approval, is now racing at breakneck speed for a new space ""first,"" the authors conclude that the manned moon landing could easily bring fresh human tragedy. Their feelings are shared by many scientists who have tried to warn the public that manned flight is dangerous and unnecessary for the advancement of knowledge. Some have pointed out that NASA seems to have no future plans after the much ballyhooed trip to the moon. Unfortunately, Congress, long entranced by NASA's utility as a giant aerospace pork barrel, has hitherto resisted thoughtful re-examination of the space program. Things might change if this book receives the readership it deserves. Good muckraking reportage.