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How Apollo Flew to the Moon (Springer Praxis Books) Paperback – August 8, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


From the reviews of the second edition:

“This book was written for those … to learn without the prerequisite degree in aeronautics. … Due to the high level of detail that is paid to virtually all aspects of Apollo, this book is well worth the price and should be considered a must have for space aficionados. … There are additional stories of Apollo’s engineering triumphs both on the surface of the Moon as well as in flight, much of which reflects my continuing journey into the technical achievement that was Apollo.” (Jason Rhian, Aviation Week, March, 2011)

“How Apollo Flew to the Moon is the consummate technical narrative about the Apollo lunar program for the nontechnical reader. … for those who have a long-held interest in the Apollo program and always wondered how things worked this is a treasure trove. … is not only a fun and accessible tech-read but also a very valuable reference book, where you will find detail and minutia that is difficult to find anywhere else. … no comparable work which is so accessible or rewarding to read.” (Rod Pyle, Quest, Vol. 19 (3), 2012)

From the Back Cover

This new and expanded edition of the bestselling How Apollo Flew to the Moon tells the exciting story of how the Apollo missions were conducted and follows a virtual flight to the Moon and back. New material includes:

- the exploration of the lunar surface;
- more illustrations;
- more technical explanations and anecdotes.

From launch to splashdown, hitch a ride in the incredible Apollo spaceships, the most sophisticated machines of their time. Explore each step of the journey and glimpse the enormous range of disciplines, techniques, and procedures the Apollo crews had to master. Although the tremendous technological accomplishments are well documented, the human dimension is not forgotten, and the book calls on the testimony of the people who were there at the time. A wealth of fascinating and accessible material is provided, including: the role of the powerful Saturn V; the reasoning  behind trajectories; the day-to-day concerns of human and spacecraft health; the triumphs and difficulties of working in an unforgiving and hostile environment while surrounded by hard vacuum and pernicious dust; and the sheer daring that was involved in traveling to the Moon in the mid-20th century.

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Product Details

  • Series: Springer Praxis Books
  • Paperback: 555 pages
  • Publisher: Springer; 2nd ed. 2011 edition (August 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1441971785
  • ISBN-13: 978-1441971784
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 6.7 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Woods studies and writes about the nuts and bolts of the Apollo programme, an interest that stemmed from being lucky enough to witness the Apollo missions on TV as a child. He created the "Apollo Flight Journal"; an annotated transcript of the missions that owes much to the tremendous Apollo Lunar Surface Journal. This project let him develop an extensive knowledge of how the missions were run from the point of view of the crews. It also gave expression to his ability to explain complex technical systems and concepts in a easy-going, approachable style.

His first book, 'How Apollo Flew to the Moon' (HAFTTM), is now in its second edition and is a good all-round book on Apollo technology that has been highly praised by Apollo fans. It will appeal to anyone who is interested in the subject at any level.

Two books from the Haynes stable, co-written by David, take a technical peek into well known space hardware; The 'Lunar Rover Owners' Workshop Manual', co-written with Chris Riley and Phil Dolling, came out in 2012, and the 'Gemini Owners' Workshop Manual', co-written with David Harland, was published in early 2015.

David talks about HAFTTM and tells stories from its pages in two audio podcasts recorded for; numbers 83 and 97, which together comprise over 4 hours of conversation on Apollo.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By David Wheeler on January 6, 2012
Format: Paperback
I almost passed this book over because of the cover design. The colors and title suggested a watered down treatment of the Apollo program, perhaps aimed at middle school students. But I found it is actually PACKED with information on the systems, procedures and timelines of the program. I've never found a more thorough treatment of Apollo technology and I found it very satisfying reading. It's also very well organized and well written so it isn't difficult to understand.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Colin Brown VINE VOICE on June 7, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
How Apollo Flew to the Moon is a masterpiece in writing and one of the best books I have read (and I have read most books published) on Apollo and the early NASA missions.
Mr Woods takes a very complex (and to some could be quite boring) topic and breaks it down into easy to understand step by step sections and in doing so draws the reader into what the Apollo astronauts had to do and how the mission proceeded from liftoff right through to splashdown.
This book is the new extended edition which also covers the actual moon landings and EVAs. There are more detailed books related to this aspect of it but what Mr Woods does cover fits in well with the rest of the book and is a great addition to the previous edition.
The only complain I have regarding this book is that Mr Woods has converted everything over to the metric system and this can sometimes be a little confusing to readers, especially when he's quoting actual dialog and the figures given are in feet and miles etc. Mr Woods' explanation immediately converts these to metric. Sometimes there is no imperial/American unit references and everything is in metric. Since Mr Woods would have had to do the conversions for this book in the first place, would it have been that hard to put the imperial/American units in parenthesis next to the metric units (or vice versa)? This would have made a masterpiece book even better.
As such, apart from the very minor gripe above, this is a must read for any Apollo or early NASA enthusiast. Truly excellent.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Collin R. Skocik on April 28, 2012
Format: Paperback
I learned so much from this book. The material is exhaustive. The research that went into it is staggering. There's enough here for years of study. It makes a great companion piece with the equally amazing "Exploring the Moon" by David Harland.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R. Roberts on January 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
This book is a very detailed discussion of the Apollo space flights, the hardware almost inch by inch and the flight procedures almost minute by minute. The discussion of the initial launch sequence, and how the various stages and engines of the Saturn III and Saturn V worked, goes for more than 150 pages of its nearly 600 pages. The details of orbital mechanics, including exactly what a Hoffman transfer orbit is and how it worked, are explained in great detail with almost no "math".

The details of how the Apollo hardware, the service module, the command module and the lunar module, was built and operated are in this book. Details on the Apollo spacecraft's guidance computer software, including specific programs and how the programs were invoked by the astronauts [*] - which resonated with me as I saw the forerunner of how the Space Shuttle's far more complex systems were influenced operational style that I'd be exposed to in the early '80's. Every bit of jargon one heard on the Apollo mission audio is explained from TLI to POGO to why exactly Buzz Aldrin was getting program alarms from the lunar modules' overworked guidance computer as they descended (he had the rendezvous radar turned on in case of an abort).

And yes, details on how the Apollo astronauts defecated for the scatalogically fascinated. A 45 minute evolution evidently.

If you are a real detail geek and you are fascinated by the engineering details of how contemporary space craft worked, this book will not leave any detail unexplored for you.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By mastermindquiet on March 14, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm posting this quick review as an FYI regarding comments posted by one of the reviewers (Jonathan) who noted that in his edition there was a smell to the pages ("The book literally stinks. I don't know what kind of paper and ink combination they used, but the book smells AWFUL") and that "Most of the black and white photos are reproduced very darkly. Some of them are so dark that it's difficult to tell what we are supposed to be seeing in the photo". Jonathan didn't mention which edition he had received. I can sympathize, as I have gotten books with these issues. Nevertheless, I really wanted this book so I crossed my fingers and ordered it from Amazon.

I just received my copy, which is the 2011 edition. There is no discernible smell and the b&w photos, in fact all the photos and illustrations, are sharp and very clear. Even the color photos are excellent. Of course I can't guarantee that your 2011 edition will be as nice, but at least we know there is one copy that is.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Hogan on June 5, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read several Project Apollo histories over the past several years, and count "How Apollo Flew to the Moon" among the very best. Author David Woods, and Englishman, has a great talent for the written word and gives unique perspectives on the many development/testing projects in addition to the actual lunar missions. For all interested in learning more on the now 50-year old mission to land on the moon and safely return, count this book among the very best that have been written.
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