Not long now and we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first human landing on the moon! 50 years ago, on the 20th July 1969, humankind’s greatest tech adventure culminated with Neil Armstrong setting foot on the lunar surface. Altough I wasn’t born back then, this has inspired me from early childhood and over the years my fascination grew even more. Even after several trips to the Manned Space Flight center in Huston and Kennedy Space Center in Florida, I still get goosebumps when I pick up a book about a particular aspect of the Apollo program. So in anticipation of the 50th anniversary celebrations, here are the top three books I think one should have read about Project Apollo:
The first book on my list is, without doubt, ‘How Apollo Flew to the Moon’ by David Woods. With incredible detail, insight and wit, this book tells the story and gives the technical details of how it all came together in less than a decade and how missions were actually flown. An absolute must-read!!!
Next on my list is ‘The Apollo Guidance Computer’ by Frank O’Brian. This computer was designed and built long before the invention of the microprocessor and it’s an absolute marvel. And quite frankly, after reading this book, you will agree with me that if you had the choice today to fly to the moon with this computer or with something modern, you’d rather use the AGC, without a second thought.
And, if you only have time for three books, have a look at ‘Apollo EECOM – Journey of a Lifetime’ by Sy Liebergot to round things up. This book gives an incredible perspective of mission control and the people that worked there from Sy’s perspective. Unfortunately, the book seems to be out of print, but it can be bought second hand. Go for it while they can still be found!
And once you are through with the books, go for a real mission, the full audio communication stream and tons of background information is available at the Apollo Flight Journal website. After reading at least the first book, you will actually understand the technical things they are discussing which makes this absolutely fascinating.
And then, there are lots and lots for other books that I could recommend, including the Saturn V Owner’s Workshop Manual, Moon Lander by David Kelly, auto-biographies of astronauts, etc. etc. Enjoy!