This volume, originally published in 1979 in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing is one terrific history of the development of the Apollo program from the beginning.
Most people think and believe that Al Shepard's flight gave way to President Kennedy's speeches regarding landing a "man on the moon and returning him safely to earth before the decade was out" was the start of a crash course in lunar technology that culminated in the Apollo 11 landing June 20, 1969 and his murder in 1963 was the serious spur. Not true.
In fact, NASA and predecessor NACA, along with adjunct organizations and the military had been studying the problems of space travel for some time, and Von Braun's team had also pushed for a lunar mission as well. This book gives an outstanding history of this period through the rest of the Apollo program through 1969.
This is a fascinating book and very well-written. Coupled with other volumes available, this gives a great course in the massive engineering effort that went to solving this forbidding physics problem. Honestly, it is amazing that the spacecraft were fairly conceived by 1963, with the innards being developed as the spacecraft was tested.
The book delivers the story plus much information that is somewhat obscure by today's standards but still interesting for those readers wanting to delve further into the program. The book isn't particularly science based, but does have a good technical basis (If you are looking for a more technical examination, this probably isn't the book for you).
Overall: a terrific read and very well done. Even though now we approach the 50th (!) anniversary of the landing, this is still a great achievement.
This definitive (and classic) NASA document gives a detailed history of the development of the Apollo spacecraft - notably the CSM (Command & Service Modules) and the LM (Lunar Module). A must have for all those interested in the history of the apollo spacecraft and indeed the Apollo program from the very early 1960s through to the Apollo 11 moon landing. Outstanding.
Courtney G. Brooks and team did a masterful job on this work, which was commissioned by NASA and released in 1979 (ten years after Apollo 11) and re-issued by Dover in 2009. Brooks, Grimwood and Swinson focused on different aspects of this very complex project, reaching way back into the early 1960's.
Prepare yourself to have some myths busted, and some old ideas shaken up a bit. These guys may have been working for NASA when they wrote it, but they did it right, not pulling any punches for the myriad of mistakes by the engineers and managers.
It's easy for us to look backwards today and say, "Well of course we were going to do it!", but let's get real-- when the idea of even putting men in Earth orbit was relatively new, the engineers at a very new NASA were talking about putting men on the moon, exploring it's surface, and returning-- and doing so within ten years. And they pulled it off in spite of some very tough setbacks and public pressure.
The race to the moon (against the USSR) and the cold war were very closely tied together. NASA had not only technical challenges to overcome, but they had to do it through the administrations of Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon-- four administrations, two parties and a congress that changed every year, and during a very costly and controversial war in Southeast Asia. ("No bucks, no Buck Rogers.")
Now having said that, I have an autographed copy of this book, because I serve in the Civil Air Patrol with the lead author, Dr. Courney G. Brooks, who happens to be a very nice guy, an accomplished pilot and instructor as well as having a PhD in Aviation History. (His team was contracted by NASA to write the book, which is in the public domain. He gets no royalties.) The book is very well indexed, making it's use as a reference a very practical addition to any space or aviation enthusiast's library.
Good read. Hopefully Courtney won't read this review and get all embarrassed. Oh, and after having read this book, I think we probably did actually land men on the moon.... probably wasn't just an expensive government conspiracy after all.
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Just in time for the 40th anniversary of the first Apollo Moon landing, this book is a reprint of a classic NASA-sponsored history of the development of the lunar spacecraft. Originally published in 1979 in the NASA History Series, the authors of "Chariots for Apollo" describe their efforts accurately in their preface (p. xviii) as beginning "with the creation of NASA itself and with the definition of a manned space flight program to follow Mercury. It ends with Apollo 11, when America attained its goal of the 1960s, landing the first men on the moon and returning them to the earth. The focal points of this story are the spacecraft--the command and service modules and the lunar module."
When it first appeared, "Chariots for Apollo" received a warm welcome from the scholarly community. The reviewer in "Tech¬nology and Culture," July 1980, said that the work "is certain to become a standard reference for all who examine the American manned space program....As historians have come to expect from the NASA history program, the book is meticu¬lously researched in primary and secondary sources." In Isis, December 1980, reviewer I.B. Holley had these words of praise for "Chariots for Apollo" and other works in the NASA History Series: "If this is court history, it is very good court history." Based on exhaustive documentary and secondary research in addition to 341 interviews, this well-written volume covers well the design, development, testing, evaluation, and operational use of the Apollo spacecraft through July 1969.
Having been out of print for many years Dover Books and the NASA History Division is to be commended for making it available in paperback once again. The book has been available on-line at NASA for many years: [...] The information is available via the internet, but for those of us who appreciate the book as a method of conveying knowledge, having this book back in print is a boon.
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Great book for all those who grew up in the 1960s and followed the space program from its birth. Much like reading the Warren Commission report, this book is loaded with details and factual technical information not covered in TV documentaries. It's a book that a non-fiction reader can easily visualize. I am not a fiction reader and very few books hold my attention. This account of the trials and tribulations of NASA's pioneering moon landing project is spot on and serves as a great example of the time, energy and passion our engineers and astronauts poured into man's greatest achievement.
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