July 6, 2013

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Manufacturing Dreams

Apollo 11 image 6642 showing LM approaching command module while passing over Mare Smythii.

I'm 21 years late but I just finished reading Mike Gray's totally engaging 1992 book, Angle of Attack - Harrison Storms and the Race to the Moon. Although it has the hyper-enthusiasm of a 1950s boy's adventure story with a hero and his true-blue companions, the stories of the technical problems that were solved to produce the Apollo success are astonishing. I grew up with the excitement of space, and devoured the Apollo science chronicle of Don WIlhelms' To a Rocky Moon, but I simply did not appreciate the engineering complexity of the spacecraft and the Saturn rockets that took the crews to the Moon and brought them home safely. I recommend this book, and now am starting Mike Collins' Liftoff to get the astronaut perspective. There have been so many new space machines since Apollo that I suppose technological problems now have solutions that were inconceivable 60 years ago. But I bet the heart attack-provoking and divorce-causing obsessive dedication and vision of Harrison Storm and cohorts are still required.

Chuck Wood
Note: Science may not be Gray's strength for there are a few errors including the last page saying that Apollo samples confirmed that tektites were blasted out of lunar volcanoes; they weren't, they are ejecta from Earth impacts.

Yesterday's LPOD: A Tongue & a Bench

Tomorrow's LPOD: Chapelet Luna


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