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  Moon Lander: How We Developed the Apollo Lunar Module (Tom Kelly)

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Author Topic:   Moon Lander: How We Developed the Apollo Lunar Module (Tom Kelly)
apollo11lem5
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posted 04-08-2001 05:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for apollo11lem5   Click Here to Email apollo11lem5     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Amazon has a book entitled "Moon Lander: How We Developed the Apollo Lunar Module" by Thomas J. Kelly.

As many of you may recall, Mr. Kelly of Grumman was in charge of the actual design and building of the LEM as featured in the HBO/Tom Hanks production of "From The Earth To The Moon" in the episode entitled "Spider."

Jacqueline
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posted 05-11-2001 01:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jacqueline   Click Here to Email Jacqueline     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Any news from anyone on that book? The "Spider" episode was my favourite one from the "From the Earth to the Moon" series. This is one book which I would love to have in my collection.

NC Apollo Fan
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posted 05-11-2001 07:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for NC Apollo Fan   Click Here to Email NC Apollo Fan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I received my copy of the book a couple of weeks ago. I have yet to begin reading it as I am finishing up another, but it looks quite good.

bruce
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posted 05-14-2001 05:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bruce   Click Here to Email bruce     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kelly provides exhausting chronological detail and scope to a subject of the space program that has been, up until now, somewhat undernourished in print.

Kelly has a natural talent for telling a sometimes complicated and technical tale in a very down to earth (pardon the opposing pun), human-like manner.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the real story of how the Lunar Module came to be.

tegwilym
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posted 05-25-2001 12:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I see a lot of messages about this book. Is it a good one to get? Anyone have some comments or a brief review they could post?

Spacefan
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posted 05-30-2001 12:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacefan   Click Here to Email Spacefan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If you are looking for a "tell-all" kind of book, I don't think this is the one for you. While Mr. Kelly does give us some personal insights and stories about the cast of characters who made Apollo work, this book is more of a day-to-day (nearly) journal of the problems and solutions which were encountered and conquered to build the Lunar Module.

With the deft touch of a practical yet eloquent engineer, he relates the events in a sometimes dry but interesting "nuts and bolts" manner. It reads as if he wished to set the record straight and get it all down as accurately as possible.

His frequent footnotes and bibliography show that he paid a great deal of attention to getting the details right. At the same time, he does open the door to his emotions (such as when his father passed away, or at critical moments during missions, or at the births of his children, or when particularly trying problems are discussed). He shows us his humanity, it's just that the focus of this book wasn't about him and his emotions while conquering the many engineering dragons of building the LM.

And, he didn't use it as a pulpit to criticize others. In fact, he was very self-effacing in analyzing his own weaknesses and shortcomings. His candor was refreshing and makes him an even greater human being, in my humble opinion.

All in all, a great read and a must have for anyone interested in reading a first hand account which is both accurate and entertaining.

Overall, I give it 9 out of 10 ("Carrying the Fire" being a 10/10).

NCApolloFan
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posted 05-30-2001 02:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for NCApolloFan   Click Here to Email NCApolloFan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I finished reading Moon Lander just this afternoon - I too enjoyed it and would recommend it for anyone interested in an accurate account of the building of the LM. Prior to reading it I was a bit concerned that some of the material would be beyond my level of technical understanding, but this was not the case. I found it very readable and had to pace myself so as not to finish the book too quickly.

I enjoyed reading more in depth about certain aspects of the design that were critical, such as the need to trim weight off of the LM and the problems concerning leaks in the propulsion system and the RCS. I also enjoyed the smaller details as well, such as learning who suggested a larger front hatch to allow for the bulky backpack on the lunar surface. While reading the book I made an effort to look through my various photographs of the LM, and knowing the stories behind the form and function caused me to see it differently than in the past.

I agree with John also in regard to the emotional component of the book. He gives praise to the workers of Grumman and accepts a share of personal responsibility for specific setbacks that the program encountered. Writing it was not an excercise in self-gratification, which makes the success that he achieved that much greater.

Perhaps the only improvement that I would have made to the book would have been to include additional diagrams throughout the text. The few that are found are excellent; I simply wish that there were more of them.

I too consider "Carrying the Fire" as my benchmark, and my opinion is that this book is very close to that great standard.

tegwilym
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posted 05-30-2001 03:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sounds like it is similar to the episode of "From the Earth to the Moon".

astronut
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posted 07-20-2001 05:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for astronut   Click Here to Email astronut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just finished Tom Kelly's book Moon Lander and found it to be a valuable addition to any collection. The book was VERY detailed and required close attention. It was not as easy a read as some others but I loved it.

It amazed me in the amount of detail as to who did what and when, and the step by step process that took an engineer's thoughts to a completed spacecraft. He was in my opinion very honest as to some of the mistakes made, oversights, bad management, etc. by Grumman. He did detail how they corrected their problems.

A great book I'd recommend to every space enthusiast.

Jacqueline
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posted 11-27-2001 04:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jacqueline   Click Here to Email Jacqueline     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well I've been reading Moon Lander for four months now, and I am just over half way! (It does take me a long time to read a book).

I know nothing about engineering but I am determined to finish this book. I have learned so much about the difficulties that were involved to build a 'spaceship' to land on another planet. The task was so enormous I am surprised that it was ever built! Seven years sounded like plenty of time to design and build a space craft, but it wasn't - not by a long shot. I've just finished the chapters on the Apollo 1 fire and how this put the program back again (but for the better). Fascinating stuff!! And I haven't been too bewildered by the science of it all either.

Will let you know when I finish it and give you all my final thoughts.

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posted 12-30-2001 08:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jacqueline   Click Here to Email Jacqueline     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I finally finished Moon Lander on Chirstmas Eve. Although it took me a long time to read I really enjoyed the story of how the first 'spaceship' was made. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Apollo.

There is only one negative response to this book and that is I wish there was a bit more about Mr Kelly's private life, and how his family lived through this astonishing time in history. He vaguely touches on it - his father's death had barely one paragraph. Still a very good book - and I wasn't blinded by the science either!

GoesTo11
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posted 11-03-2010 10:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This book came up on the Joe Gavin In Memoriam thread, and I have a question about it that I thought would be inappropriate to post there:

Moon Lander has been on my "must read" list for a while, but I've heard that some sections are tough sledding for someone with no engineering background (like me). I'd appreciate any feedback from any cSers who have read it. Thanks!

Editor's note: Threads merged.

SpaceAholic
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posted 11-03-2010 10:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very easy read for this non-engineer.

Spacefest
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posted 11-03-2010 10:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacefest   Click Here to Email Spacefest     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SpaceAholic:
Very easy read for this non-engineer.
LOL! I'd say you're better versed in LM parts and workings than say... Fred Haise

MCroft04
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posted 11-03-2010 10:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's been a while since I read it, but I do recall that I enjoyed it and don't recall any difficulty understanding the book.

Pat Gleeson
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posted 11-04-2010 03:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Pat Gleeson   Click Here to Email Pat Gleeson     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A wonderful book, both technically informative and emotive of the times. It's by no means hard going at all, don't let that put you off. The reason I suspect there is little recorded of Tom's personal life at that time, is because the LM programme didn't allow much of a personal life.

He - along with anyone deeply involved with project Apollo - were simply devoured by the all consuming effort to put a man on the moon before 1970.

AstroAutos
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posted 11-07-2010 05:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AstroAutos   Click Here to Email AstroAutos     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Having read all of these positive reviews, I've just bought myself a copy of the book on Amazon - I'll give my verdict when I'm finished.

Jay Chladek
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posted 11-09-2010 03:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was the one that mentioned it in the other thread and indeed Tom Kelly explains things so a non-engineer with Apollo program knowledge can understand it. If anything, "Truth, Lies and O-Rings" was harder to follow in spots with the engineering terminology, yet both books I found to be satisfying reads in their own right (and I'm not an engineer).

AstroAutos
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posted 11-28-2010 06:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AstroAutos   Click Here to Email AstroAutos     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just finished reading Moon Lander - and would have to recommend it to anyone with a passing interest in Apollo and space in general.

The book is very well-written and gave me an easy to read insight into the development, testing and actual flights of Grumman's Lunar Modules. It wasn't at all too technical and is filled with quirky anecdotes from Tom Kelly. Examples include from when he describes how McDivitt and Schweickart snuck out of the LM simulator during an Apollo 9 comm break simulation to get a sandwich to how two Grumman employees were questioned by the FBI upon landing after an entire flight's conversation about bombs (they were discussing using bombs for engine tests but the flight attendants didn't know that!)

From vividly describing how Grumman came up with their original proposal for their LM design to the difficulties faced along the way (notably trying to lose LM weight) this book is a must-read for Apollo enthusiasts like myself, and gave me a whole new understanding of the behind the scenes work that went into putting men on the moon.

Kelly goes through each Apollo mission involving a LM in quite good detail (with the exception of Apollo 16 which Kelly mainly only watched from home.) Although the chapters on the landings don't really include anything we haven't already read before, it is interesting to read it from the perspective of someone outside of NASA but who still played a pivotal role in getting humans to the Moon.

All in all an excellent read!

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