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Taking Science to the Moon: Lunar Experiments and the Apollo Program (New Series in NASA History) Paperback – July 3, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Conceived primarily as a political statement, Apollo achieved much more than its original goal," Beattie, a geologist and former project manager of the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments, writes in this valuable addition to the literature on America's race for the moon. When President John F. Kennedy issued his mandate in 1961 to put an American on the lunar surface before the end of the decade, the objective was to beat the Soviets, whose space program at the time was two years ahead of our own. Kennedy's mandate did not specify what the astronauts should do once they got there; simply getting there was enough. Beattie gives a first-hand account of efforts by NASA scientists to do more to include science payloads on Apollo missions despite opposition from mission engineers, who envisioned a direct round-trip shot with as much margin for error as possible. The Apollo 11 mission that culminated in Neil Armstrong's historic "giant leap for mankind" was much different; it combined a command module sent from a low earth orbit with a lunar lander carrying a hard-fought minimum payload for collecting seismic and other data. Later missions would carry a full 250 pounds for lunar experiments, the result of years of planning, design and training by NASA project managers, engineers and astronauts. Beattie faithfully chronicles all this in a comprehensive yet thoroughly readable manner. As he shows, the Apollo missions yielded a harvest of data, much of which still has not yet been fully analyzed. Beattie's account helps complete the historical record of the Apollo years; it will hold great appeal for rocket enthusiasts, providing as it does a behind-the-scenes look at one of the greatest adventures in history.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

Taking Science to the Moon transports the reader behind NASAs facade, and into the 1960s' politics, planning sessions, turf battles, camaraderie, and jealousies of the world's major space agency. An absorbing, insightful, and revealing critical history of what eventually turned out to be a hugely successful scientific endeavor.

(David W. Hughes The Observatory)

Comprehensive yet thoroughly readable, it will hold great appeal for rocket enthusiasts, providing as it does a behind-the-scenes look at one of the greatest adventures in history.

(Publishers Weekly)

We get valuable insights into how committees worked and into the struggles for scientific payload space on lunar landers, and into how geological objectives were devised. We also discover how fears of contamination from lunar organisms led to the creation of an elaborate quarantine facility for the first men on the moon. This is a fascinating book.

(Martin Heath Astronomy Now)

This is a very detailed yet clearly written and interesting account of the tremendous effort involved in getting the greatest science return from the Apollo program, starting with having it included in the first place.

(Steven Simon Journal of Geology)
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Product Details

  • Series: New Series in NASA History
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press (July 3, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801874408
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801874406
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,411,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By G. P. Roberts on January 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I first saw this book while at my local library and after glancing through it I decided it might be worth a quick look. Once I got home and started reading I quickly discovered that this was no dry Science/History book by some old college professor but a great read that tells a part of the Apollo story that is far to often ignored.
The author was a participant in the development of the NASA experiments and the book is written from the view of an insider, not just someone who has done research on the subject. He discusses field training and the development of the moon simulations here on earth. Read about how they duplicated the lunar sites, including how they made craters, in Northern Arizona so that the astronauts felt as though they had already been there when they got to the moon. He discusses cost and weight problems that were worked out and he shares a great story about astronaut Walt Cunningham's field demonstration of an early space suite design. He shares some of the ideas that were developed for post Apollo projects that were regrettably never realized (including the large MOLAB test vehicle that you can still see today at the Space Museum in Huntsville, Alabama). You learn how moon rocks were stored and examined when brought back to earth and he includes several photos and maps that add to the various storys. All of these subjects are told in a highly readable and sometimes humorous way, so don't get the idea that this is some old NASA text reworked, it's not!
If you enjoyed the 10th episode of HBO's "From The Earth To The Moon" titled "Galileo Was Right" then this book is a must read.
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Format: Hardcover
While much has been written about the Apollo missions to the Moon, most of these books have focused on either the spacecraft the got us to the Moon (Moon Lander or Stages to Saturn) or the astronauts (autobiographies by Collins, Cernan, Aldrin) and to a lesser degree, Mission control and the flight controllers. Furthermore, thousands upon thousands of scientific and technical papers have been and are still be written from the data collected by the various experiments that were conducted on the lunar surface. The story of how these experiments got to the moon, which ones were chosen and why, the people who developed this experimental packages and the internal NASA struggles to even get these experiments to the Moon has never been documented, at least in much detail. In his book, the author, Donald Beattie who was the program manager for the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments, details all decisions, meetings, NASA in-fighting and the like that got these important, and initially overlooked surface experiments on the flights to the Moon. The author draws upon his extensive library of NASA memos, publications and the like to craft a really fine book.
The book begins with the usual background information of the author's pre-NASA career where he worked for a major US oil company in South America. After hearing about the space program, on a whim he decides to apply for a position and after several unsuccessful attempts, he lands a position at NASA headquarters in Washington D.C helping to plan the missions and experiments that will be used.
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Format: Hardcover
The Apollo program was not launched for scientific reasons but plenty of excellent science was carried out during it. This book, written by a NASA insider, gives a good guide to all the planning and development that went into the scientific investigations. In addition, it provides some very interesting material on planned longer duration Apollo and post Apollo missions, including lunar bases. Overall, this book is a great addition to any Apollo enthusiast's library.
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Format: Paperback
"Taking Science to the Moon: Lunar Experiments and the Apollo Program" by Donald A. Beattie is an excellent account of efforts by NASA scientists to do more to include science payloads on Apollo missions in the 1960s despite opposition from mission engineers, who envisioned a direct round-trip shot with as much margin for error as possible. Beattie worked for NASA between 1963 and 1973 in the science effort of Apollo. His position as program manager for the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments means that the commentary offered here is based on first-hand experience.

As Beattie makes clear, the reasons for undertaking the Apollo Moon landing program had little to do with furthering scientific understanding. Its impetus rested almost solely on Cold War rivalries and the desire to demonstrate technological verisimilitude to the peoples of all the nations of the world. Even so, also demonstrated by Beattie, a great deal of good scientific knowledge emerged from the exercise. "Taking Science to the Moon" emphasizes how scientific ideas about the Moon developed with Apollo and how they have changed over the more than thirty-five years since the last mission. It seeks to contextualize the manner in which Americans have incorporated this story, including its rich scientific legacy, into our post-modern milieu.

This is, by far, the best discussion of lunar science during the Apollo program yet published. It ranks with other first person accounts such as Don E. Wilhelms's "To a Rocky Moon: A Geologist's History of Lunar Exploration" (University of Arizona Press, 1993), and Paul D. Spudis's "The Once and Future Moon" (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996). Enjoy.
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