Chariots for Apollo : A History of Manned Lunar Spacecraft
Apollo was America's program to land men on the moon and get them safely back to the earth. In May 1961 President Kennedy gave the signal for planning and developing the machines to take men to that body. This decision, although bold and startling at the time, was not made at random nor did it lack a sound engineering base. Subcommittees of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), predecessor of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), had regularly surveyed aeronautical needs and pointed out problems for immediate resolution and specific areas for advanced research. After NASA's creation in October 1958, its leaders (many of them former NACA officials) continued to operate in this fashion and, less than a year later, set up a group to study what the agency should do in near-earth and deep-space exploration. Among the items listed by that group was a lunar landing, a proposal also discussed in circles outside NASA as a means for achieving and demonstrating technological supremacy in space. From the time Russia launched its first Sputnik in October 1957, many Americans had viewed the moon as a logical goal. A two-nation space race subsequently made that destination America's national objective for the 1960s. America had a program, Project Mercury, to put man in low-earth orbit and recover him safely. In July 1960 NASA announced plans to follow Mercury with a program, later named Apollo, to fly men around the moon. Soon thereafter, several industrial firms were awarded contracts to study the feasibility of such an enterprise. The companies had scarcely finished this task when the Russians scored again, orbiting the first space traveler, Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, on 12 April 1961. Three weeks later the Americans succeeded in launching Astronaut Alan Shepard into a suborbital arc. These events and other pressures to get America moving provided the popular, political, and technological foundations upon which President Kennedy could base his appeal for support from the Congress and the American people for the Apollo program. The Apollo story has many pieces: How and why did it start? What made it work? What did it accomplish? What did it mean? Some of its visible (and some not so visible) parts the launch vehicles, special facilities, administration, Skylab program, Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, as examples, have been recorded by the NASA History Office and some have not. A single volume treating all aspects of Apollo, whatever they were, must await the passage of time to permit a fair perspective. At that later date, this manuscript may seem narrow in scope and perhaps it is. But among present readers, particularly those who were Apollo program participants there are some who argue that the text is too broad and that their specialties receive short shrift. Moreover, some top NASA leaders during Apollo's times contend, perhaps rightly, that the authors were not familiar with all the nuances of some of the accounts set down here. Chariots for Apollo: A History of Manned Lunar Spacecraft begins with the creation of NASA itself and with the definition of a manned space flight program to follow Mercury. It ends with Apollo 11, when America attained its goal of the 1960s, landing the first men on the moon and returning them to the earth. The focal points of this story are the spacecraft the command and service modules and the lunar module.
- Paperback | 526 pages
- 216 x 279 x 27mm | 1,207g
- 31 Oct 2013
- Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
- Illustrations, black and white