- Series: Smithsonian History of Aviation and Spaceflight (Paperback)
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Smithsonian Books; Smithsonian History of Aviation and Spaceflight edition (September 11, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1588342735
- ISBN-13: 978-1588342737
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 109 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Moon Lander: How We Developed the Apollo Lunar Module (Smithsonian History of Aviation and Spaceflight (Paperback)) Smithsonian History of Aviation and Spaceflight Edition
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“A highly personalized story . . . of the Apollo Lunar Module, built at Grumman by the author and his team.”—Choice
“It’s surprising that the man most responsible for the spindly Apollo lunar landers, Tom Kelly, hasn’t told his story years before. Lucid and engaging, he tells how his team at Grumman in Bethpage, Long Island, went from paper studies to delivering hardware that would help change history. Beyond historical interest, the book has lessons for anyone involved in a large project at the cutting edge of technology.”—IEEE Spectrum
“. . . Written in an approachable style, and if you have even a passing interest in space exploration it will grip your interest. It constitutes an important primary source for the history of human exploration . . . This book is a flat-out good read.”—Meteoritics and Planetary Science
About the Author
The recipient of a Grumman Engineering Scholarship upon graduating from high school, Thomas J. Kelly worked for the company for more than forty years, retiring in 1992. Now an aerospace and computer consultant, he lives in Cutchogue, New York.
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For anyone that has grown up reading about Apollo, this is a great inside look filled with all the drama of the Apollo 1 fire, Apollo 13's explosions and saga of survival in the LM, design failures of every kind.
Kelley adds lots of biography with descriptions of all the major personalities from the astronauts to the controllers, engineers, and manufacturing personnel.
I had several questions answered that I had wanted to know for quite some time:
1. Was the LM's wall really as thin as aluminum foil.
2. How did NASA and Grumman arrive at such an ungainly looking design for the LM.
3. How does it all work? Kelley goes into great detail regarding the choice of fuels, tank design, cockpit design, the hatches, batteries, windows, navigation, pyrotechnics, life support, redundancy, etc.
As an engineer myself, I felt great commraderie with him in the his schedule and design challenges. If only most other major human technological achievements had such a delightful and well written memoirs...
Enter Tom Kelly, author of this book and an important leader at Grumman that designed and built the Lunar Module. Building the LM proved to be a difficult challenge for Kelly and his colleagues. No project like Apollo existed before. There were no precedents as to how to build a manned lunar lander. Everything had to be designed and built from scratch.
Throughout the book, Kelly describes various problems they faced designing and building the LM. For example, weight was always a big problem. The Saturn V could only carry so much payload and NASA set restrictions as to how heavy the LM could be. Kelly and his team had to scour the LM design searching for any place where ounces could be saved.
Eventually, Grumman was able to deliver the LMs to NASA. The first one was beset by problems, such as leaky fuel lines, and NASA criticized them for it. However, the problems would not last and Grumman was always able to deliver top-quality machines.
The latter part of the book describes the various missions the LM was involved with. Starting with the first unmanned test on Apollo 5 and the first manned flight on Apollo 9. The successes would continue to Apollo 11 and the first Moon landing. The LM proved to be critical on Apollo 13 when an explosion crippled the Command/Service Module leaving only the LM available for the crew to survive. After that, four more landings would round out successful LM flights.
I found this to be an interesting look at the management and engineering that went into building the Lunar Module. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves spaceflight and the Apollo Program especially.