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  Sunburst and Luminary: Apollo Memoir (Eyles)

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Author Topic:   Sunburst and Luminary: Apollo Memoir (Eyles)

Posts: 5870
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 09-22-2017 10:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sunburst and Luminary: An Apollo Memoir
by Don Eyles
Fresh out of college, the author goes to work for the MIT laboratory that designed the Apollo guidance system. His assignment is to program the complex lunar landing phase in the Lunar Module's onboard computer. As he masters his art the reader learns about the computer, the mission, and a bit about spacecraft navigation and meets a cast of interesting characters along the way.

As Apollo 11 approaches, the author flies lunar landings in simulators and meets the astronauts who will fly the LM for real. He explains the computer alarms that almost prevented Neil Armstrong from landing and describes a narrow escape from another dangerous problem. He helps Pete Conrad achieve a pinpoint landing on Apollo 12, and works with Apollo 16 commander John Young on a technique for landing even more precisely. On Apollo 14 he devises a workaround when a faulty pushbutton threatens Alan Shepard's mission, earning a NASA award, a story in Rolling Stone, and a few lines in the history books.

Along the way the author hits the high points of his eclectic personal life, as he enters adulthood in the 1960s. He writes for students of the Apollo project, for whom the development of the flight software is still largely unexplored territory, but also for the young coders of the current digital culture, who will get the author's observations on the art of programming and who may identify as he explores sex, drugs, and the other excitements of the era. The underlying thesis is that the American space program in the 1960s was successful not in spite of, but in large measure because of the idealism, the freedom of thought, and the sense of exploration, inner and outer, that prevailed in the culture during that period.

The memoir concludes in a party atmosphere at the spectacular night launch of Apollo 17 before a glittery crowd an occasion that marked the high water mark, so far, of human space exploration.

Foreword by Apollo 15 commander Dave Scott.

Don Eyles worked on the Apollo Project from 1966 through 1972, and on the NASA space program until 1998, as a computer scientist at the MIT Instrumentation Lab and the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He created flight software for the lunar landing phase of the Moon mission, and invented a sequencing system that is in use on the International Space Station. He is currently a writer, photographer and sculptor working in Boston.

  • Hardcover: 376 pages
  • Fort Point Press, Boston (March 1, 2018)
  • ISBN-10: 0986385905
  • ISBN-13: 978-0986385902

Larry McGlynn

Posts: 1129
From: Boston, MA
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 09-22-2017 06:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I proof read the original manuscript. Don has a great sense of humor. While the book reviews his work at the MIT Instrumentation Lab, he also writes about his personal life in the 1960's as a single male in the city.

He interacted with some of the more famous names in NASA and Apollo history such as Bill Tindell and Charles Draper.

It will be a book to be enjoyed.

Don Eyles
New Member

Posts: 1
From: Boston, MA
Registered: Sep 2017

posted 10-03-2017 01:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Don Eyles   Click Here to Email Don Eyles     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the postings about my upcoming book. You can find further information, including a look inside and some interesting photographs, at


Posts: 128
From: Israel
Registered: Nov 2012

posted 10-03-2017 02:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for RobertB   Click Here to Email RobertB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Don, I don't see any options for getting a signed copy. Are you thinking about that?

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 39226
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-23-2018 08:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The MIT Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts will host a book talk with Don Eyles from 6 to 7 p.m. on March 7 March 14, 2018.
Join us for an evening of space exploration with author and MIT I-Lab computer scientist Don Eyles, and get a glimpse into a complex story never before told from an Apollo insider.

"Sunburst and Luminary: An Apollo Memoir" shares the story about the development of the onboard software for the Apollo spacecraft, as told by a junior engineer just getting his feet wet in the new field of flight software.

Books will be available for purchase in the Museum Store. This event is free and no pre-registration is required.
Update: Due to an impending storm, the event was rescheduled for March 14.


Posts: 1956
From: Atlanta, GA
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 04-16-2018 05:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is a fantastic book, well worth reading for technical details as well as wonderful personal anecdotes from working and living in those times. I'm hesitant to post quotes because they'll be spoilers for eventual readers. But this is one of the best. Thank you Don.

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