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How Apollo Flew to the Moon (Springer Praxis Books / Space Exploration) Paperback – June 2, 2010

4.9 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


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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Product Details

  • Series: Springer Praxis Books / Space Exploration
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Praxis; 1 edition (June 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0387716750
  • ISBN-13: 978-0387716756
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,379,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dr. Eric M. Jones on January 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
This exquisite book fills a noticeable gap in historical coverage of the Apollo missions. A number of excellent books cover the political decision to go to the Moon, the technological challenge of designing and testing the hardware, and the time spend by the LM crews on the lunar surface. What are rarely covered are flight operations - the procedures and systems - that made it possible to get to the Moon, to live and work in lunar orbit and during the journeys between worlds, to land, and to return safely to Earth. Some of the existing astronaut biographies - most notably, Michael Collins' unmatched "Carrying the Fire" - deal with aspects of flight operations but not across all the missions or in the depth that Woods achieves. Woods takes us expertly through a composite mission, while avoiding the mistake of losing his readers - well, this one, anyway - in a tangle of detail. Essential aspects of the flights are presented clearly and at appropriate moments. I particularly liked the idea of using the portion of the book covering the long coast out to the Moon to delve into such topics as life support, hygiene (how you shave and go to the bathroom in space), food, communications, etc. Woods' discussions of such critical operations as lunar orbit insertion, landing, returning to lunar orbit, and re-entry into Earth's atmosphere are impressive. Perhaps more than any other book I've read on the subject of Apollo, "How Apollo Flew to the Moon" gives me a feeling for the magnitude of the Apollo achievement. Highly recommended.

W. David Woods is the Senior Editor of the on-line Apollo Flight Journal (AFJ), hosted by NASA at [...]
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First of all, I second all the wonderful things that folks have said about this book in the other reviews. It beautifully fills in the gaps as to what was actually going on, and explains in relatively simple terms how the systems work. An engineer or space enthusiast won't have any problems with the terminology. A less educated reader might be somewhat less able to understand - but then again, they're probably not the target audience, anyway. As someone who spent his teenage years watching Apollo live, I'm very happy to have the book in my collection.

There are a few quirks that stuck out at me:
(1) The book literally stinks. I don't know what kind of paper and ink combination they used, but the book smells AWFUL. There's something in it that I'm allergic to. It makes me sneeze if it's within 18 inches of my face, so I have to hold it at arms length to read it without my eyes watering and my nose running. I hate to mention that, but it's enough of an issue to be more than just annoying. I have never had that problem with any other book.

(2) 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.

(3) The author says up front that he will insist on using metric instead of English units because that's the way the rest of the world measures things. As someone who has memorized all the pertinent dimensions of the Apollo from his youth, it's very disconcerting for me to see them expressed solely in different units. In some cases, the author's writing around the units makes this even more bizarre to my American sensibilities. For example, we would say the F-1 engine produced 1.5 million pounds of thrust.
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Format: Paperback
Praxis, the company that also printed "The Manned
Spaceflight Log: 1961-2006", a compendium of every manned mission
from Gagarin to Spaceshift One.

In the author's preface he makes a point that I had been craving
for years:

"A particularly popular sub-niche is the astronaut bgraphy, a
somewhat variable collection of tomes that do much to relate the
story of humanity's only fora away from the grip of planet Earth.
Other volumes relate, in varying levels of detail, what the
intrepid explores actually did during their far too brief spells
on the surface of another world.

"Remarkably few books discuss the practical aspects of how
the voyage form the Earth to the Moon was achieved. The genre
seldom describes the equipment that was used; nor does it relate
the procedures and techniques that allowe the Apollo crews
to accomplish their audacious task: in general, historians
are not concerned with how a feat was achieved technically.
Instead, the dominant form of written history on Apollo studies
the experiences and interrelationships of the pople involved,
the political and social millieu in which they operated or it is
the polemic and ranting of those who are doing the commentating.
[...] The details of how something was achieved are considered to
be the realm of the 'geek' or 'nerd', and should not be presented
to the general public."

I've recently finished "In the Shadow of the Moon" and enjoyed
the stories of all of the astronaunts (and cosmonauts) who made it
into space, and how they were selected by the beocratic system to
be so honored.
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