Apollo 11

10 reviews on the first mission that landed man on the moon.

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Apollo 11: v.1: The NASA mission reports, comp. and ed. by Robert Godwin. Apogee, Box 62034. Burlington Ontario, L7R 4K2, Canada, 1999. 248p ISBN 189652253X pbk, $16.95.
Reviewed in CHOICE July 2000

These four books continue the Apogee Book series of NASA mission reports on each of the manned space flights, compiled by the editor from NASA archives. Each book is composed of from 160 to 250 pages and each usually includes an introduction, a press kit on the flight, an operation report, and pre- and postflight and postlaunch debriefings. There are tables (often hard to read), figures, maps, and pictures (often with too much contrast) related to the flight. Apollo 11, volume 2, consists of a most interesting dialogue among the astronaut-participants concerning all phases of their flight. Each book gives explicit details of the flight planning, the launch, the mission, and the orbits used as well as very interesting details involving the training needed for the flight, the human factors and experiences involved in space flight, and the scientific experiments that were conducted during the flight. Each of the volumes contains a CD-ROM that requires (as a minimum) a PC, Windows 95, Pentium 90, and a 4X CD-ROM drive. A Web browser and access to the Internet is advised. The CD-ROM contains images, film footage from the flight, movies, and interviews about the mission. Summing Up: Recommended for space enthusiasts and readers interested in NASA’s space flight programs. All levels. —W. E. Howard III, Universities Space Research Association

Carmichael, Scott W. Moon men return: USS Hornet and the recovery of the Apollo 11 astronauts. Naval Institute, 2010. 237p ISBN 9781591141105, $36.95.
Reviewed in CHOICE December 2010

This reviewer remembers watching on television the recovery of the Apollo 11 astronauts in July 1969. He was very impressed with the US Navy and its ships and personnel, and was awed by the underwater demolition team divers who jumped into the ocean to secure the astronauts and space capsule. Here, Carmichael (Defense Intelligence Agency) brings back all those wonderful memories, weaving the technical, emotional, political, and social aspects necessary to imagine, design, create, and execute the recovery. In putting this complex operation together, the US Navy had to solve a seemingly endless list of challenges, including how to use celestial navigation to locate the Apollo spacecraft as it splashed down, how to raise the capsule aboard an aircraft carrier, and how to quarantine the astronauts. There were also a myriad of smaller tasks, such as locating ruby red grapefruit for President Nixon’s breakfast on the USS Hornet, where he would greet the returning astronauts. Readers will find this book captivating for its examination and commentary on American society, engineering capabilities, dynamic personalities of NASA, Navy, and civilian participants, and unwavering faith in the successful completion of President Kennedy’s goal to “place a man on the moon and return him safely to earth.” Summing Up: Highly recommended. All libraries. —M. W. Carr, US Army Watercraft & Riverine Operations

Clemons, Jack. Safely to Earth: the men and women who brought the astronauts home. University Press of Florida, 2018. 264p bibl index ISBN 9780813056029, $24.95.
Reviewed in CHOICE February 2019

Safely to Earth is a memoir of Jack Clemons’s time as a lead engineer and later software manager at NASA. This fact-filled book reads a little like a diary and a little like a novel, recounting vivid stories of his NASA career. Clemons talks about how he got started at the agency and what it was like to work there in the days before computers and calculators. He goes into great detail about working on the Command Module for the Apollo missions. Clemons was working for NASA during the Apollo 11 mission and gives his account of that mission, as both a NASA engineer and an American citizen. Clemons discusses the remaining Apollo missions, his role in the return of Skylab—the first US space station—to Earth, how NASA transitioned to the Space Shuttle missions, and the end of the Space Shuttle program. At the back of the book, the author includes a section containing answers to questions he is commonly asked about the space program, a helpful glossary of terms and acronyms used by NASA, and a curated selection of resources for those seeking more information about NASA. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. —C. Charnaswskas-Jasionowicz, Rochester College

Footprints in the dust: the epic voyages of Apollo, 1969-1975, ed. by Colin Burgess. Nebraska, 2010. 480p ISBN 9780803226654, $34.95.
Reviewed in CHOICE December 2010

So much has been written about Project Apollo that one might ask if another book can provide further insights into this massive scientific-industrial effort to send humans to the moon. This edited volume on Apollo, which also includes material on the parallel efforts of the Soviet Union to reach the moon, does provide fresh, interesting perspectives. Footprints in the Dust consists of a series of chapters written by individual authors brought together by editor/author Burgess, who is intensely interested in human spaceflight history. Chapter 1 considers Apollo 11, the first manned mission to the moon, and the last chapter discusses the 12 individuals who walked on the moon. Separate chapters cover each mission following Apollo 11, including the Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz projects, both of which utilized Apollo hardware. In the final race to the moon, the Soviets sent the Zond 5 spacecraft on a circumlunar mission in September 1968, and this mission carried several living organisms, including two turtles, that survived reentry into Earth. However, with the failure of the massive N1 rocket, the Soviets could not realize their goal of a human lunar landing. Overall, an interesting account of US and Soviet lunar missions. Summing Up: Recommended. Space history collections serving general readers and lower- and upper-division undergraduates. —J. Z. Kiss, Miami University

Hansen, James R. First man: the life of Neil A. Armstrong. Simon & Schuster, 2005. 769p ISBN 074325631X, $30.00.
Reviewed in CHOICE April 2006

Neil Armstrong was the first person to set foot on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission in July 1969, and from that moment on, his name was etched in world history. Although many books have been written about Armstrong and his mission, this excellent and thorough biography is the first one ever authorized by the astronaut himself. This allowed Hansen (history, Auburn Univ.) access to Armstrong’s papers as well as to 50 hours of interview with the astronaut himself. A fascinating account emerges of the career of Armstrong, widely regarded as intensely private and even reclusive. The book considers his early life, especially the influence of his mother Viola. Gemini 8 was Armstrong’s first spaceflight mission, and he performed very well in a dangerous situation. The members of Apollo 11’s crew—Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins—are called amiable strangers since they never developed strong personal relationships, as did other Apollo crews. After the mission, Armstrong went into NASA management for a year, then left to work as an aeronautics faculty member at the University of Cincinnati. The book also chronicles his struggle to return to a normal life. Summing Up: Essential. All levels. —J. Z. Kiss, Miami University

Hartland, David M. The first men on the moon: the story of Apollo 11. Springer/Praxis, 2006. 378p ISBN 0387341765 pbk, $39.95; ISBN 9780387341767 pbk, $39.95.
Reviewed in CHOICE May 2007

Apollo 11 lunar module landed on the moon July 20, 1969, with astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, while Michael Collins remained in lunar orbit in the command module. Space historian Hartland begins with background about the astronauts and the mission, but mostly focuses on the actual time line and events of Apollo 11. The author shows what was happening in the spacecraft, in mission control, and with the families of the crew. Although a great deal has been written about this mission, this reviewer still learned some new things. For instance, the astronauts left a small bag of mementoes on the moon that included an Apollo 1 patch, items to commemorate Russian cosmonauts, and a text with messages from world leaders. Hartland also discusses the private communion service performed by Aldrin on the moon, along with associated controversies. The book includes an excellent selection of full-page black-and-white photographs, a section of color images, and several interesting tables about the mission. The conclusion mentions the world tour taken by the Apollo 11 crew and some of the geological results obtained from the lunar samples. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers. —J. Z. Kiss, Miami University

Harland, David M. NASA’s moon program: paving the way for Apollo 11. Springer/Praxis, 2009. 472p ISBN 9780387681313 pbk, $39.95.
Reviewed in CHOICE December 2009

The book’s foreword states that “Readers of David Harland’s previous books on the exploration of the Moon are well acquainted with his detailed research, lucid style and ability to summarize complex events.” This work is certainly a detailed history, or more appropriately, a history of the details of the Lunar missions that preceded the Apollo program. Space historian/writer Harland (e.g., How NASA Learned to Fly in Space, CH, Apr’05, 42-4622; The Story of the Space Shuttle, CH, Dec’04, 42-2245) describes the first and early US satellite programs as well as the Soviet programs. He also describes in detail the Ranger spacecraft missions and briefly discusses the Soviet Luna series. Next, the book provides extensive coverage of the Lunar Orbiter and Surveyor series programs. It ends with a treatment of the origins and development of the Apollo program. In addition to discussing program management, operations, hardware, and performance of the pre-Apollo missions, Harland places heavy emphasis on lunar geology and geography. Indeed, the volume includes more than 150 photographs and drawings of the moon. This historical account is too technical and detailed for undergraduates or the general public, but it will be useful to people working in the field of space history and technology. Summing Up: Recommended. Researchers, faculty, and professionals. —A. M. Strauss, Vanderbilt University

Nelson, Craig. Rocket men: the epic story of the first men on the moon. Viking, 2009. 404p ISBN 0670021032, $27.95; ISBN 9780670021031, $27.95.
Reviewed in CHOICE June 2010

Humans landed on the moon in July 1969, and the world was changed forever. The story of this technological triumph of the US in the Cold War era has been told many times, but this engaging account of the Apollo 11 mission is definitely worth reading. Writer/editor Nelson (The First Heroes, 2002) discusses the human side of the mission and tells the story of the three astronauts in riveting detail. Neil Armstrong was the consummate professional pilot and astronaut, but his taciturn personality made it difficult for him to face the responsibility of being the first man on the moon. Buzz Aldrin struggled with his own demons and addiction that occurred post-flight, described here with compassion. Michael Collins, the crew member who orbited the moon during the mission, ended up with the most “normal” and successful career after the fame of Apollo 11. Nelson provides a good presentation of the context of the mission relative to current issues with human spaceflight. NASA’s conflict between engineering and science is the same today as it was in the late 1960s. The volume includes a section of glossy black-and-white photographs as well as detailed bibliographic references. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates and general readers. —J. Z. Kiss, Miami University

Scott, David Meerman. Marketing the moon: the selling of the Apollo lunar program, by David Meerman Scott and Richard Jurek. MIT, 2014. 130p bibl afp ISBN 9780262026963, $39.95.
Reviewed in CHOICE November 2014

Though many books are available about the history and technicalities of the Apollo lunar program, this is the first book to exclusively examine lunar mission marketing and public relations efforts by NASA and its Office of Public Information (later known as the Public Affairs Office), staffed mostly by “ex-newsmen.” Marketing efforts included an exclusive contract with Life magazine/World Book Science Services, a partnership with Walt Disney, and the Apollo 11 exhibit/road tour. The frequent communication with media outlets tended to offset controversies about the exclusive publisher agreements, which limited astronaut and family interviews. Marketing professionals Scott and Jurek stress the many ironies of the Apollo missions/marketing efforts. This included NASA centers (Cape Canaveral, Houston, etc.) initially communicating more with the press than each other, unplanned moments and publicity such as the Apollo 8 “Earthrise” color photo and environmental movement inspiration, and the success of the Apollo 11 mission contributing to overall lessened interest from the public, media, and Congress in subsequent missions. Includes full-color photos and topical inserts such as Collier’s magazine covers and Grumman Corporation publications. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All marketing and history of technology library collections. —K. D. Winward, Central College

Tsiao, Sunny. Piercing the horizon: the making of a twentieth-century American space luminary. Purdue, 2018. 264p bibl index ISBN 9781557537911, $29.95; ISBN 9781612495118 ebook, $25.99.
Reviewed in CHOICE August 2018

Tsiao, an aersospace engineer and spaceflight historian, presents a biography of Thomas O. Paine, administrator of NASA from 1969 to 1970 and a major figure in the agency’s history. His leadership period coincided with the height of the American space program, including the first seven Apollo missions and the first human lunar landing during the Apollo 11 mission; Paine helped lay the groundwork for future human spaceflight. Massive budget cuts threatened NASA’s future just as a lunar landing became technologically feasible, and Paine had to navigate tricky political waters while working to maintain the agency. Paine argued to Congress that many technologies from the space program advanced American power and wealth. President Nixon, who was lukewarm about NASA, wanted Paine to develop international cooperation for future space endeavors. Paine also participated in the ongoing debates at NASA about the engineering culture versus scientific research (a debate that continues to this day). While Paine advocated for a mission to Mars, he never gained support from the President or Congress. The book, which includes sections of photographs, provides a fascinating window into the zenith of the heroic age of human space exploration. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers. —J. Z. Kiss, UNC-Greensboro