The Apollo Missions In The Astronauts’ Own Words by Rod Pyle (book review).
Rod Pyle seems to be involved in a lot with space books this year. This one, ‘The Apollo Missions In The Astronauts’ Own Words’, unlike the others is closer to being a photo album with some rare photographs, making it a decent companion piece to them. Pyle gives information about the missions interspersed with dialogue from the astronauts and various other people.
Seeing the photos from the Apollo 1 fire and how there was so much plastic, including the astronaut spacesuits in the command module in a pure oxygen environment, it’s understandable why Gus Grissom was gripping so much. Thankfully, the lessons were learnt but it was a terrible price in lives.
The pay moondirt (sic) of this book is the conversations between the astronauts on the Moon and NASA and they really will keep you on the edge of your seat, even 50 years later. One thing that isn’t always noted is what did the astronaut in orbit do on his lonesome in orbit. Well, apart from being kept in the loop as to what was happening on the Moon, except when he was on the dark side of it, he was also photographing it from there as well.
With the Apollo 14 mission, something that comes out of their dialogue is the lack of perspective due to not having any familiar landmarks on the Moon. If that sounds like something I’ve discussed in the past as to how you lose your bearings in the snow, then you should have some sympathy with that. It’ll be interesting to seeing how future manned Moon missions fare with the same problem.
Of course, there were changes when NASA got three $20 million Lunar Rovers to the Moon allowing the astronauts to travel further to collect samples. Reading the Apollo 15 astronauts accounts here shows that even going at around 8mph they had to be aware of the rugged terrain they were manoeuvring on and even slopes worried Control lest they couldn’t get back. The final mission also ensured that there would always be a scientist amongst the crews of all future space flights.
With the final Apollo missions, there’s a certain joie de vivre from the astronauts about the proceedings even though the number of missions were cut. Who knew that 50 years later, Man has not returned to the Moon in person. These were pioneer days with notable risk. Reading their own words from that time period also makes this somewhat unique with only a dozen men ever landing on an alien world and that’s our nearest satellite. It did make me wonder on the ambition for a stay on the equally inhospitable Mars without first establishing a base on the Moon.
Hopefully, this book will inspire the coming generations to not only look up at the night skies but get the desire to travel there as well. We might have problems on this planet but our world was built on the advanced technology from then so we all gained from it.
(pub: Carlton Books, 2019. 192 page illustrated indexed square hardback. Price: £16.99 (UK), $24.95 (US). ISBN: 978-1-78739-276-2)
check out website: www.carltonbooks.co.uk