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How Apollo Flew to the Moon (Springer Praxis Books / Space Exploration) Paperback – January 8, 2008
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From the reviews:
"A space exploration enthusiast from Bearsden has written a book about Apollo’s journeys to the moon in 1971. … David, a post-production editor at BBC Scotland, is keen to point out that his book is … aimed at geeks. He was careful to make it as human as possible and accessible for all. He says it is a narrative rather than a manual. His book is entitled ‘How Apollo Flew to the moon’ and is available from all good bookshops." (Milngavie & Bearsden Herald, January, 2008)
"David has written a book in his spare time, compiled from his extensive research into the manned space missions. The book he’s produced is a composite mission that follows a virtual flight to the moon from launch to splashdown. … He’s managed to write a scientific book about the moon that is science-packed, but actually very easy to read. … His book has been well received among the international space community but it deserves to be a cross-over success." (Glasgow Sunday Herald, February 2008)
"I must personally say that I have found, what I consider, the quintessential book on flying Apollo. If you want to understand the terminology, the various systems, how they functioned together to land on the Moon and return home, then this is the book. While I have written articles on the Apollo Guidance Computer, the star charts used and proofed a new book coming out on the lunar landing, this book explains the mission simply and succinctly. David, this book is really well done." (Larry McGlynn, www.apollotribute.blogspot.com, March, 2008)
"An impressive book about the sequence of NASA Apollo flights that led to and beyond the moon landing in 1969. … The book provides excellent descriptions of what occurred at each stage of the missions … . this one is particularly good at explaining technical issues like orbital mechanics in understandable language. Includes excellent photographs (several in color) and diagrams, a 5-page glossary, a 3-page suggestion for further reading, and a good 20-page index. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers/libraries." (W. E. Howard, CHOICE, Vol. 45 (10), June, 2008)
"This is, quite simply, one of the five best books ever written about the Apollo programme … . Most books on Apollo have dealt with the ‘what’ and ‘when’ of the subject; this is the first to go deeply into the ‘how’ of the missions … . Accompanying the text are many photos and diagrams, and there’s also a selection of colour plates. … There’s so much to absorb in this book … . A superb book in all respects!" (Liftoff, Issue 244, March-April, 2008)
"A wealth of knowledge regarding the early days of manned space exploration. … Woods describes each phase of an Apollo Mission in intimate detail, from the stacking of the booster until the crews are safely abroad the aircraft carrier. … Ultimately, it is an easy read. … As an armchair historian, I have always wondered about the intricacies on Apollo. Woods’ book really satisfied my curiosity about systems and people." (James M. Busby, Space Times, Vol. 47 (3), 2008)
"W David Woods has dedicated his research to the technology that took them there. How Apollo Flew To The Moon … examines the background to the programme and gives an in-depth brief on how the systems and procedures safely transported humans on the 380,000km (240,000 mile) journey between the Earth and Moon, from blast-off to splashdown. Fully illustrated and with comprehensive index, this is a worthy addition to any … astronaut’s library." (Flight International, September, 2009)
"The Internet has brought new possibilities for space documentation. … Now Woods has distilled the information into the book How Apollo Flew to the Moon. … it is a good read for someone with … interest in the details of a manned spaceflight. Woods takes the reader through every stage of the process of the Apollo missions. … The book also effectively describes many other interesting details, including the pressure under which Apollo crews needed to operate." (Nick Watkins, Eos, October, 2009)“It is well researched and written and the step-by-step process of what happened (and why) is reassuringly logical. The book is fairly well illustrated … and includes a number of simple line drawings to explain the basic physics of orbits and trajectories. … The author of this book has risen to the challenge of explaining how man got to the Moon and has done a creditable job.” (Mark Williamson, Satellite Evolution Group, 2009) “If you are the kind of person that watches launches and wishes that you could listen to the ground and air to ground communications loops, instead of the reporters and the PAO … this is probably the kind of book you would like. The book has some interesting tidbits and hints of things as well. … I am loving it, so I would … recommend it.” (John, Newsgroups: Sci.Space.History, June, 2008) “The shift in a known accurate ground based carrier reference was used to determine the speed, and an synchronization of data frames provided the necessary time-delay measurements for the determination of distance. For an excellent reference on the details of exactly how this was achieved, please see How Apollo Flew to the Moon, by David Woods … . If there is one book you need to read on the subject, this is the one to get! … details in this reference on navigation are excellent.” (Jim Cottle, Bulletin of the San Francisco Amateur Astronomers, Vol. 56 (10), October, 2008) “The Apollo mission in 1969 kicked it all off. The way those missions happened and the meticulous planning is captured in a book every space enthusiast should own, How Apollo Flew to the Moon from W. David Woods … .” (Mind Sorbet, July, 2008) “How Apollo Flew to the Moon by W. David Woods is just a masterpiece of a read. It flows through the missions on a step by step basis, with really good explanations of space travel and gravity, etc. … I didn’t find the book complicated … . It was exactly what I wanted for a deeper understanding of the Apollo missions.” (Jafo, Amazon, February, 2010) “This book is brilliant … it gives a fantasically detailed step-by-step account of the technology that got the apollo crafts to the moon 40 years ago - including all the prelims - the alternatives - the science - the politics - and is interspersed with interesting commentary from the astronauts involved … the clarity with which the narrative is written is commendable - i loved reading it.” (B. Yla, Amazon, August, 2009) “A fantastic book that is pitched at the level of the layman with some technical knowledge. This book contains all of the answers to all of the questions you would have on the subject of the Apollo project from a technical standpoint. Once you pick it up, you will struggle to put it down. Do not lend this book to anyone because you wont get it back!” (C. R. Mackay, Amazon, December, 2008) “It is one of the best technical books on Apollo I have ever read … . All in all, a very good book, beautifully presented, laced with anecdotes and engineering details but never too heavy. … Recommended.” (A. D. Crysell, Amazon, April, 2008) “This book is a dream read for me. … How Apollo flew to the Moon has technical information by the bucket load without bogging you down in numbers and equations. A brilliant book … .” (E. M. Robson, Amazon, March, 2010) “This book covers just about everything I ever wanted to know about the technical side of Apollo. Nicely written and extremely interesting. … If you love this subject go but it.” (S. Eldridge, Amazon, March, 2010) “For even those mildly interested in space travel (and the engineering behind it) this is a fantastic book. … this simply explains in an easy-to-understand way how they flew to the moon, from conception to splashdown. A thoroughly enjoyable read.” (Amazon, January, 2010) “If you want to know how Apollo actually worked, then this is the book for you. … The book is well written … . author also does a good job of explaining how it was a combined effort of everyone who designed, built and administered Apollo that got it to the moon … . As a professional engineer I have often wondered how various aspects of spaceflight are managed, and when reading this book I repeatedly found myself thinking ‘so that’s how they did it’.” (Christopher Bell, Amazon, January, 2010) “Very interesting book full of facts previously unknown to me. It also answered the question (in detail) about how astronauts spend a penny in space and more etc. A must have book for anybody interested in the NASA moon missions and pretty good value too.” (B. David, Amazon, October, 2009) “David gives the book a logical flow from start to finish, citing facts from each mission as appropriate to illustrate the issues. … Until reading this book I had never realised just how superb the design of the Saturn/Apollo machine was. … I would recommend this book for anyone already interested in the Apollo missions … . It’s a gem.” (Jonathan Glenister, Amazon, November, 2008) “This book explains … all, and somehow manages to do it in a way that is engaging and fairly easy to follow. I found it endlessly fascinating. Really excellent stuff that really fills a major gap … . So warmly recommended.” (Pete, Amazon, November, 2008) “I have just finished reading this excellent book and I would certainly recommend it to anyone interested in the Apollo project, or space flight in general. Without getting bogged down in equations, this book explains how the space craft of the Apollo era worked and where flown. … Each section contains examples from the real missions to show how a staggering series of procedures allowed the first humans to walk on the moon. Well worth reading!” (M. J. Bowyer, Amazon, May, 2008) “Apollo project must have been perhaps the greatest adventure of mankind. … This beautiful book describes in a vivid way or better tell the story of this unique adventure. The best feature of ‘How Apollo Flew to the Moon’ is the way it is written. … I fu...
From the Back Cover
Stung by the pioneering space successes of the Soviet Union, the United States gathered the best of its engineers and set itself the goal of reaching the Moon within a decade.
David Woods tells the exiting story of how the resulting Apollo flights were conducted by following a virtual flight to the Moon and back. From launch to splashdown, he hitches a ride in the incredible spaceships that took men to another world, exploring each step of the journey and detailing the enormous range of disciplines, techniques and procedures the Apollo crews had to master. While describing the tremendous technological accomplishment involved, he adds the human dimension by calling on the testimony of the people who were there at the time.
In How Apollo Flew to the Moon there is a wealth of fascinating and accessible material: the role of the powerful Saturn V, the reasoning behind trajectories, the day-to-day concerns of human and spacecraft health between two worlds, and the sheer daring involved in traveling to the Moon in the mid-twentieth century.
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Top customer reviews
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.
My own tech level is about that of Popular Mechanics, and my scientific knowledge is on the level of Popular Science, except in Geology, in which I took a number of college level courses. So I'm no expert on these things, though I came to the book with a knowledge of some terms and concepts. This book is much deeper than that, but the writer works you into the concepts and the jargon slowly enough that you begin to get them page by page. By the end, the only subject I was still having a little difficulty with was the navigation and such things as X, Y and Z axes and Refsmmat. I did get them, but only having to go back and re-read some passages several times. But then I bombed badly in trigonometry in high school, so maybe it's a personal mental block.
What I found this book especially useful for is in learning and understanding all of NASA's very arcane jargon. I have a number of Spacecraft Films' Apollo DVD sets, which present video and audio of the Apollo missions in a raw footage format, with no narration or notes to help you get what is being said, all numbers and abbreviations and acronyms, by the crew and controllers during the film and audio sequences. But after reading this book, I found myself able to understand most of it. For example, when you listen to the on-board tape recording of the crew during the re-entry phase of the Apollo 8 mission, and you hear them say, "There's the .05 G indicator" and everything starts getting exciting, after reading this book you know why. This understanding adds a whole lot to the enjoyment of watching the videos.
I'll echo one complaint of a previous reviewer. That concerns the use of the metric system rather than the standard measurements used by NASA during the missions. Instead of distances given in miles, we get kilometers; instead of feet per second, we get meters. For weights we get kilograms instead of pounds. This takes away a lot of understanding from many readers. The writer explains this in his introduction, saying something like, "when we write the history of Rome, we no longer use such obsolete measurements as cubits and spans", but the difference is that measurements like pounds and miles are not obsolete. They are still used by hundreds of millions of people, in the very country that acutally landed on the moon and from which country there would seem to be the most interest in a book like this. To me, this wasn't a petty gripe. It took away a lot from this book. When you try to impress us, for instance, with the size and power of a Saturn V rocket, it doesn't help when you tell us "The Saturn V was 100 meters tall" when the reader doesn't know how big 100 meters is. To us it could be ten miles or it could be two feet. The measurements could have been given both as metric and standard units without adding too much bulk to the book. This almost made me reduce my ratings from 5 to 4 stars, but I kept it at 5 because the book is helpful in so many other ways, and because the writer seemed to be so genial.
I've noticed that a number of very good books on the Apollo and other US space programs have been written, like this one, by Australians, and find this phenomenon to be very interesting. I wondered how much it had to do with the major NASA radio tracking installation at Carnavon. But I think I got a clue while recently watching an Apollo 12 onboard video beamed to Earth during the powering up & checkout of the LEM after docking. Houston tells the crew that they are "Live on TV in Australia right now". So many of the key parts of these missions happened in the middle of the night here in the US with everyone asleep, but that meant they were being shown in prime viewing hours in Australia. It may be, because of this, that more people were watching Apollo in Australia than in the US. So maybe more Australians than Americans are interested in Apollo now, and that justifies the use of metric instead of standard measurements. But I still would have liked the standard.
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