Book 200: A Man on the Moon by Andrew Chaikin


A Man on the Moon by Andrew Chaikin

Finished reading on January 29th, 2016

Rating: 10/10

I simply loved this book. Not having lived at the time when Apollo missions were actually happening, this book made me feel as if it all were happening now. It’s wonderfully detailed and interesting – you see the Moon through the eyes of the astronauts who went there and also see what the general public thought of man’s greatest adventure.

It was fascinating even though I’ve been reading quite a lot about Apollo missions, but this book was excellent – it’s not at all technical, it’s more reminiscent of travel journals.

You get an idea about the people and find out more about the Moon. It is sad though if you think of it all and realize no-one else has even sent a manned mission to orbit the Moon.

Book 176: Moondust by Andrew Smith


“Moondust” by Andrew Smith

Finished reading on June 13th, 2015

Rating: 7/10

If you’ve ever wondered what became of the astronauts who flew to the Moon and landed there, then this is the book that will give you the answers.

This book, first published in 2002, looks a bit at what happened to the Apollo mission astronauts – whether or not going to the Moon changed them and how they deal and have dealt with one trip to the Moon in their thirties being the most important thing they’re known for.

I found the book interesting, as you see the different characters and later life decisions and since the author gives quite a lot of background events that happened at around the time of Apollo missions, you see the astronauts as human beings.

The book did have a quite sad undertone as you see how the astronauts’ marriages fell apart and some of the astronauts took up one business after another not really finding the right thing to do while others did end up finding something like Buzz Aldrin and Alan Bean and John Young.

While Neil Armstrong arguably the most famous astronaut didn’t really communicate much with the media or give autographs or appear in documentaries, Buzz Aldrin is still a space-advocate but who had to go through quite a rough time after coming back from the Moon. As Michael Collins orbited the Moon while his colleagues were on the Moon, he doesn’t get much mention in the book, as it is focused on the ones who actually got to walk on the lunar surface.

Out of the astronauts portrayed I would Alan Bean one of the more interesting ones as he became a space artist depicting what he saw on the Moon. And then there are the more curious characters who got into religion after coming back… Quite a curious bunch of moon-men…. But you can find out more in the book.

In general though it left me with the thought of whether it’s better to have a totally average life where nothing extraordinary is achieved or is it still preferred to have something totally awesome that you’ll be known for the rest of your life, but that you might never be able to outdo?

Book 105: Marketing the Moon by David M. Scott and Richard Jurek

cover38256-medium  “Marketing the Moon” by David M. Scott and Richard Jurek

Finished reading on February 3rd, 2014

Rating: 9/10

How would you like it if you’d have a great idea that could change the whole world, the way every human being thinks, and as you let people know about it they’re enthusiastic, amazed, they support you 100%, but as more and more people get to know it in just a short while the excitement is gone and your ideas dies as quickly as it rose  to attention?

The Apollo Lunar program took men to the furthest place they’ve gone to until the present time. A great achievement in such a short time that has had a lasting legacy in some ways.

The space race between the Soviet Union and the United States was the main reason why Apollo program started when it did, and it’s important to remember that it was during the Cold War era, that such activities were undertaken.

Apollo 11, that took the first men to the surface of the moon was televised live, it generated a lot of interest in media, and more than 3000 journalists covered the story, space walks were on TV live on prime time – the race had been won.

Interestingly enough there had been several astronaut’s who had opposed the idea of having TV cameras onboard the spacecraft that would stream the live image, as it would take up too much of mission time.

These cameras lead the way to a story with a somewhat sad ending, as right after the Apollo 11, on Apollo 12 the live broadcast lasted only for an hour because of technical reasons, although the previous one had hours on air.

This book is a very interesting read, as you can feel how the public loses interest in the lunar missions, and it’s ultimately sad. The book almost made me cry and made me feel somewhat like I did when I was a teenager reading about the great expeditions to Antarctica – the whole world had been mapped, and something seemed to have ended. With the Moon however it seems to have ended before it even got to begin, just because it was ahead of its time.

The story is interesting, as you can find out about how some journalists had to deal with economic difficulties but still were able to cover the Apollo missions, or how some of the astronauts were caught trying to earn money from tax-payer funded missions, about how the Columbia command module travelled around the US and why did the world Expo in Japan get so many visitors especially in the American expo. Also find out about where did many of the lunar rocks end up.

I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.

Book 15: Riding Rockets by Mike Mullane

Riding Rockets by Mike Mullane (Scribner, 2007)

Finished reading November 13, 2012

Rating 9/10

I started reading it in bouts in the end of last week while watching several sci-fi movies. I took this book up because in Mary Roach’s “Packing for Mars”, she writes that if you only ever read one astronaut’s biography, then this one should be it.

I’m not sure yet, whether this would be the definitive astronaut’s biography, but I’ll know that when I read something by other astronauts. However I think it is a truly great book. And it might be the characteristic space shuttle astronaut’s story. I just loved it. It’s funny and serious and exciting from the beginning to the end.

Plus it gives a good idea of what the astronauts have had to suffer to get into space. It covers the astronauts selection process from the candidates’ point of view, there’s Mullane’s childhood and how he became an astronaut. He flew on three shuttle flights. The most exciting part for me was the description of the first launch of Discovery… or well tries to launch Discovery – they aborted a few times.

You can also read about the Challenger’s last flight.

In general I think it might have a bad effect on some people – they’d want to become astronauts themselves.

While I’m not yet in that kind of danger – I’d rather wait until they start the space elevator business, I really found Mullane’s description of the shuttle’s descent a bit worrying and I don’t think that coming back down in a capsule sounds any better… so spend my whole life in orbit or wait? I’ll have to settle for the last one for now. Especially since there aren’t  space shuttle flights anymore. 😦

It was a bit like reading Robert Scott’s diary or about Amundsen going to the South Pole – it’s something that puts everything in a human to an extreme test – the motivation, strength, skill, health. I used to be obsessed about expeditions to the South Pole,  space expeditions are just one (small) step further.

And a talk by Mike Mullane :