Tribute to the Apollo program - manned exploration of the Moon, 1969-1972

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Links & Books

DE: Da die folgenden Links und Buchempfehlungen alle auf englischsprachige Quellen zurückgehen, habe ich meine Anmerkungen nicht in Deutsch hinzugefügt. Wenn Sie verstehen, was ich als Nichtmuttersprachler in Englisch geschrieben habe, müssen Sie sich nicht scheuen, diese Quellen zu lesen. "How Apollo flew to the moon" ist etwas schwieriger in der Sprache. "First on the Moon" gibt es mit dem Titel "Wir waren die Ersten" auch auf Deutsch. Die Güte der Übersetung kann ich aber nicht beurteilen, da ich die englische Originalversion bevorzugt habe. Der Deutsche Überlick zum Buch ist also bitte entsprechend zu sehen.

EN: The text above in German language just explains why most of the rest here is in English only.


The Apollo Lunar Surface Journal ALSJ and the Apollo Flight Journal AFJ are a very ultimate detailed source of the Apollo space flights. Both journals provide corrected voice transcriptions of the technical air-to-ground, onboard and PAO (Public Affairs officer) voice recordings. In addition the journals provide detailed commentary and explanations on the fascinating events. Short audio and video media (which are not copyrighted and therefore I can also use here) supplement these documentations of the greatest adventure of mankind ever. The Honeysuckle Creek tribute website provides a great pool of media and information about the Australia's tracking station, one of the three big tracking stations helping very much the manned lunar landings becoming true.

Apollo Lunar Surface Journal ALSJ Apollo Flight Journal AFJ
NASA History - The Apollo Program Apollo Gallery
A Tribute to Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station
Canberra, Australia and all who worked there

Today on January, 13th in 2011 I would like to say special thanks to Colin Mackellar for I received a DVD from him including the complete restored Apollo 11 EVA TV broadcast! Colin has send me the DVD all for free, thanks a lot!
Apollo 11 Restored EVA broadcat - DVD cover


I'm actually on my way to read some books to get more details of how the manned lunar landings where processed and how the points of view of participants are like. These books are available in English language only but if you are fine with English and interested in more information about man's greatest technical achievement do not hesitate to read them. Reading these books is the most thrilling reading I ever have done though I very well know how it all has come to its end.

How Apollo Flew to the Moon by David Woods

David Woods was not involved into the US space program but he has become an enthusiast of the lunar landing program. As the one who creates and maintains the ALJ David's book is a good source to learn more about technical details and the problems of how to fly to and land on the moon. How Apollo Flew to the Moon is a technical book but knowing some physics you will have no problem to understand, there are no equations, everything is just qualitative. I highly recommend to read this book. It will not enable you to fly to the moon but after reading this book you will have very concrete basic ideas of how it can be done.


Failure is not an option by Eugene Kranz

Eugene Kranz was test pilot before becoming flight director of the white team in mission control Houston. He probably is known to you as the man with white vest, a kind of trademark of him, and who has managed the save return of the Apollo 13 crew in the movie "Apollo 13" with Tom Hanks playing Jim Lovell and Ed Harris playing Gene Kranz. Indeed the movie is very authentic in telling the story of Apollo 13 and so you will find Gene Kranz telling about this episode of Apollo flights too in his book.

Kranz writes very emotional about the manned spaceflight to reach the moon. Telling about himself you will find Kranz being a patriot, a manager and leader but also a man with tears in eyes on the death of the Apollo 1 crew and the lucky return of Apollo 13. Somehow he seems to be a macho, a character which would not engage sympathy on me. But this somehow because Gene Kranz has beside all the management very deep know how of the techniques of space flight and after all: How he did his job was a very high success at all. This means he has done it all right and well. When Gene Kranz retired from the flight director job as a honor the team color white for a NASA's controller team was said to be never used again, it stays forever the color of Gene Kranz' white control team.

With this book you got the story of the manned lunar landings from the very early Mercury program through Gemini until the last voyage to the moon of Apollo 17 in chronologic order. The problems of mission supporting on the ground are as thrilling as the flights of the spacecrafts itself. Indeed you will understand that the missions were the team of ground support and the flying crew.


Carrying the Fire by Michael Collins

Michael Collins, the man who has stayed in lunar orbit while his crewmates Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon, tells his story of his dream to become first a test pilot an than an astronaut. With much humor Collins, who was first rejected by NASA, tells that it wasn't not a easy to him, it was hard sweating work of learning.

Though he probably would have become commander of Apollo 17 and therefore another one to walk on the Moon, Collins retired from NASA after Gemini 10 and Apollo 11. If things would have gone along as we know them this means Collins would have been the last man on the Moon. But Michael Collins explains what Apollo was to him, why he was satisfied with his role in Apollo 11 why he did not want another space flight an why he never has regret his decision.

I think Michael Collins is a man you could say it with Frank Sinatra "I did it my way". For himself he did everything right and that means he did it right at all.

After reading your book: Michael Collins, okay, you are just another average guy, nobody special. But please know: Things did not come easy to you but you mastered them all with your will and hard work for it, you have seen the far side of the Moon with your own eyes. An average man achieving such goals is a strong one; it just makes him very more than just average.


The Unbroken Chain by Guenter Wendt & Russel Still

Guenter Wendt was the leader of the supporting crew at the launch pads from Mercury through Gemini and Apollo. He has known all astronauts and was there for all mission launches except Apollo 1. Guenter Wendt was not a NASA employee; he has worked for NASA contractors. First he was employee of McDonnell Aircraft, manufacturer of the Mercury capsules and the Gemini spacecrafts. Later he changed to North American Rockwell, manufacturer of the Apollo CSM spacecraft. NASA and especially the astronauts had wanted him back after the Apollo 1 tragedy. It was Guenter Wendt who as developed many of the emergency procedures at the launch facilities.

Seeing the manned space flight program through the eyes of the launch supporting team at the ground, this is what Guenter Wendt writes in his book. Though maybe not always my preferred style the book anyway is worth to be read.

And to the living memory of the German Guenter Wendt (* 28. August 1924   † 3. Mai 2010) as said by Donn Eisele after the hatch of Apollo 7 was closed and the white room was retracted:

I wonder where Guenter Wendt

Two sides of the Moon by David Scott and Alexej Leonov

David Scott was one the 12 men, an US astronaut, who stepped on the Moon. On the other side of iron curtain Alexej Leonov, the first man who has performed an EVA in space, was the cosmonaut who should have been the first Soviet to set foot on the moon.

Through the whole book Scott and Leonov are telling of how about their life was from their childhood on. The perspective thereby is changed between the two. David Scott's description of what his feelings were when he has set foot on the moon is very impressive. It is just how I have imaged it would be to stay on the moon until today. On the other side from Alexej Leonov I learned life behind the iron curtain was hard but still it was life with also pleasures for him. Reading the book you can feel his disappointment when the Soviet lunar landing program was canceled, in fact after Apollo 8 has successfully orbited the moon. Also his anger about the Soviet leaders is expressed by Leonov, up today he believes the Soviet Union would have been capable of being the first on the Moon.

Around the iron curtain US astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts have deep respect for each other and if not able to be the first they have always kept their fingers crossed for the success of the other side. It was on David Scott's Apollo 15 where the astronauts left a plaque on the Moon with the names of all cosmonauts and astronauts who have died for reaching the moon.

This a great book to learn about the space race and how it has looked like on the both sides, the two sides of the Moon. Also with David Scott there is a person of how life continues, when the greatest possible adventure in once life is over.


We Have Capture by Tom Stafford

"We have capture" is the voice radio message Tom Stafford has send 1975 form Earth orbit when in the ASTP (Apollo Soyuz Test Project) mission the last US Apollo spaceship ever has docked with a Soviet Soyuz spaceship. Reading "We have Capture" tells about Apollo, about going to the moon where Tom Stafford has gone as Commander of Apollo 10. But "We have capture" is not much about space flight as I expected. It is more about the management of it all. For that Stafford more refers to ASTP and the dialog with the Soviets than on the Moon landings.

I have enjoyed reading this book; it is worth to get the perspective form Tom Stafford. But if you are looking for emotions or some kind of the romantic or the feelings of a moon voyager, this is not the book you should prefer.


A Man on the Moon by Andrew Chaikin / HBO TV miniseries "From the Earth to the Moon"

Chaikin's goal is telling the story of Apollo, about what has happened with the manned lunar landings and the exploration of the moon. To Chaikin there has happened more than the technical fact of the landings on another world and that is what the book is about. I share Chaikin's view and that is why I looked forward to read "A Man on the Moon". The author has interviewed the moon voyagers, the astronauts who flew to the Moon, some of them walked on the Moon. Chaikin tells the story of every Apollo mission, of what is was for the astronauts.

You will find the spirit behind the basic technical fact of the voyages to the moon and the landings on it in this book. If you are interested in the story of the Apollo program this way then I recommend you to read this book. In addition you may want to see the HBO TV miniseries "From the Earth to the Moon, produced by Tom Hanks which is based on this book. Both, the book as well as the miniseries tells the story of Apollo in a very impressive emotional way without disregarding the facts thereby, both are authentic when telling the story. Miniseries and book both have its own character of telling the story, so either if you first read the book or if you first see the miniseries will destroy the story told - a real story.


First on the Moon by Gene Farmer and Dora Jane Hamblin

EN: First on the Moon is the documentation of the voyage of Apollo 11 to become the first Lunar Landing with Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin Jr. (today Buzz Aldrin) with Neil Armstrong on July, 21th in 1969 at 2:56:20 was the first man to set foot on the Moon speaking his historical words "That’s one small step for a man…one giant leap for mankind."

Along the timeline of the mission extracts of the transcription of the Public Affairs Officers (PAO) and the technical air-to-ground voice transcription are used to show how the Apollo 11 mission went on. Interviews with the astronauts and their families as well as descriptions of how life of the family members was like during the Apollo 11 mission make this book some kind of a standard for all those who want to know what the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing mission was. Also people already knowing the story might want to read this book as well because still today it comes up with some details not mentioned in the more widely available information media.

The Epilogue by Arthur C. Clarke (2001 Space Odyssey) is a very idealistic prognosis of the future of manned space flight. Though idealistic Clarke's prognosis does not lack of realistic estimations of the benefits of manned space flight, beginning with the arguments why the very expensive Lunar Landing missions already have their benefits like new technologies, interest of young people in technical education and improving the school system to be able provide such educations. Clarke also thinks over the implications of mankind's view of the world and the further evolution of man; becoming a wider open mind through manned space flight because seeing a greater picture of the solar system and therewith of the world around him with its own eyes. - As we know today idealistic thoughts do not persist to be realized. But still today reading the Epilogue auf Arthur C. Clarke may show us, what we are going to lose every time we prefer to think in short time terms of profit.

DE: Wir waren die ersten ist die Reise von Apollo 11, der Mission v om Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins und Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin Jr. (heute Buzz Aldrin) bei der Neil Armstrong der erste Mensch wurde, der den Mond betrat, begleitet von deinen berühmten Worten "Die ist ein kleiner Schritt für einen Menschen, aber ein großer Sprung für die Menschheit."

Dem Flugplan entlang zeigen Zitate aus den Niederschriften des Öffentlichkeitssprechers und der Funksprechdialoge wie die Mission ablief. Ergänzt mit Interviews mit den Astronauten und Ihren Familien sowie den Schilderungen des Lebens der Familien während der Apollo 11 Mission, kann man das Buch als ein Standardwerk für all jene ansehen, die wissen wollen, was die Apollo 11 Mission war. Aber auch diejenigen, die es schon wissen können das Buch lesen, es enthält einige Details, die auch heute noch nicht in anderen Medien gestreut sind.

Der Epilog von Arthur C. Clarke (2001 Odyssee im Weltraum) ist eine sehr idealistische Prognose zur Zukunft der bemannten Raumfahrt, sie aber keineswegs realistische Einschätzungen der Vorteile der bemannten Raumfahrt entbehrt. Beginnend mit den Erklärungen warum die Mondlandungen schon heute die Vorteile neuer Technologien, Interesse junger Menschen an Technik und Ausbau des Schulsystems um diese Wissen zu vermitteln bringen, geht Clarke über zu Überlegungen wie bemannte Weltraum das Denken der Menschheit ändern kann, weil wir bei Reisen in unserem Sonnensystem ein größeres Bild der Welt sehen, die uns umgibt. - Wie wir heute wissen haben idealistische Ideen keinen Bestand. Trotzdem kann das Lesen des Epilogs von Arthur C. Clarke und zeigen, was wir jedes Mal verlieren, wenn wir dem kurzzeitigen Profit den Vorzug geben.


The way of the Explorer by Dr. Edgar Mitchell with Dwight Williams

Ed Mitchell was the 6th man to become walking on the moon. At the side of Alan Shepard, the first US astronaut in space, he made the 3rd manned lunar landing during the Apollo 14 mission. On the way back from the moon Mitchell experienced something like widened state of consciousness making him feel connected to the complete universe, feeling it as a living process and feeling connected to it. In his book Mitchell describes his journey to explore the Moon as well as the journey in his inner on his search to find an explanation for his experience with his state of consciousness on the way back to Earth. Mitchell states paranormal phenomena for real, not without serious investigation as he said, and proposes a scientific explanation of these phenomena of consciousness as well as for things like reincarnation without becoming religious.

To me the book seems didactical not very well structured; it more seems a kind of typical conspiracy theory or esoteric nonsense argumentation. But to say the truth I also think this may be caused in my knowledge of English language which was enough to understand the book but sometimes only by guessing the sense. Also in one point I think Mitchell is right: Experiences of different states of consciousness for what reason ever (meditation, religious ceremony, illness) is a fact, every human being more or less knows these effects. So I think it is a valid goal to propose a more detailed explanation than traditional science can. At least what Mitchell does is nothing but finding himself after his extraordinary experiences of a journey to the Moon. But why do humans have the necessarily to find themselves? A valid question also I think.

I would be very interested in other opinions about this book in any case because I'm not quite sure about it. Normally I would not have read such a book to its end but as it is from a very high qualified person, a man out of only 12 who walked on the moon, I do not want to classify it as absurdity at all. A man who walked on the Moon in the first place is a trustworthy authority.


The Last Man on the Moon by Eugene Cernan and Don Davis

In contrast to Michael Collins (see above "Carrying the Fire") Gene Cernan does not tell much about that learning was too hard. But the other way round he has seen Michael Collins as one of the best astronauts. Cernan has rejected a further Apollo mission, where he would have been Lunar Module Pilot and therefore another man who would have walked on the Moon, because he liked to become commander. Finally he did it on Apollo 17 but we can read he would not have rejected if he had known that Michael Collins was in line before.

Cernan has written a book of himself as man who knows what he wants. His professional career seems more or less to have been easy for him. But clearly he points out that this was a tunnel view of himself, not noticing the needs of his family, especially of his wife. Walking on the moon was a thing with a high personal price for Cernan.

Cernan writes much of how the flying was and what "Failure is not an option" tells from the view of mission control, here is told here from the view of an astronaut. If you are interested in what it was being an astronaut, this is the right book to read. As it is form the last man to walk on the Moon from out of only 12 men ever, you should not miss this book.


First Man - The Life of Neil A. Armstrong - The authorized Biography by James R. Hansen

If you like to know the personality of the first man on the Moon you should read this book. Reading this book does really give one a guess about the character of Neil Armstrong as a really special person, beside that the fact that he was the first one on the Moon. Many anecdotes about Armstrong are mentioned and often corrected with what had really happened. Yes of course, the explanation why Neil Armstrong does not give any more autographs is given in this book. And the reason is not Armstrong alone; it is about how the world treats his goodwill.

Armstrong has supported the work of James Hansen. So what can be found in this book about Neil Armstrong is not another a necdote; it is the truth about a man of whom we could wish that if there is ever a contact with intelligence in the cosmos, somebody like Neil Armstrong should be the first representative of human kind.