A wonderful book. Dan Parry interweaves the story of the Apollo 11 mission with the events that led up to it to make an immensely readable and engrossing story. There were so many things mentioned in the book that gave me an "Oh, yes! I hadn't thought of that" moment. All the while I am still in disbelief that they achieved what they did with 1960s technology. Amazing.

Your reading activity
Dates 23 July 2012 – 08 August 2012
Time spent reading 7 hours, 30 minutes
Highlights 35
Comments 21
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Named Cape Kennedy in 1963, in 1973 the area reverted to its original name of Cape Canaveral.

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I did not know that. Why did it revert?

During the early 1950s, an average of one test pilot a week was killed in an air accident; in 1952 alone 62 pilots died at Edwards during a nine month period.

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Amazing amount of lives lost by test pilots in the US. I suspect that there is no way this would be tolerated today.

Russia's successful development of Sputnik

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It's difficult to read this book on an iPad without scooting off into Wikipedia land. X-15s and Sputnik so far this session...

As the tanks slowly began to fill, glistening chunks of ice formed on the outside of the rocket.

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I've always wondered what all of those white chunks are that you see falling everywhere in those old videos of Saturn V rocket launches. I'm now assuming that they are ice fragments.

The procedure began with each man rubbing a special salve on his buttocks before strapping on a condom-style device to collect urine, followed by a nappy for anything else.

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The glamorous world of astronauts.

With the engines now burning 15 tons of fuel a second, more than 40 tons of propellant were consumed before the rocket even left the ground.

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In a mission to the Moon, an obvious thing to do would be to point your rocket towards it and fly in that direction. But in attempting to do this, you'd be likely to miss.

With its legs still folded, its protective gold foil shining in the sunlight and its two iridescent windows glinting like eyes, the LM resembled a giant insect drawn from its protective chrysalis.

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Extracting the lunar module. Love the imagery.

von Braun found it expedient to join first the Nazi party and then the SS, while developing what became the V-2 rocket.7 He also permitted the use of slave labour. Twenty thousand people died at the Peenemünde and Mittelwerk plants while building the V-2, the world's first ballistic missile.

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Why was he not treated as a criminal like the other Nazis? Instead he becomes a Director at NASA!

with the spacecraft now revolving faster than one revolution per second it was quickly becoming one of the most dangerous moments in space-flight history.

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Nerves of steel required.

The crew of Apollo 1 (left to right) Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee, in front of Launch Complex 34, housing their Saturn IB launch vehicle. When a fire broke out during tests the complicated hatch left them unable to escape.

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Tragic that they died while stuck on the ground.

Apollo 11 climbs towards orbit. This photo was taken with a telescopic camera mounted in an air force EC-135N aircraft.

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Stunning photo!

With a living space roughly the same size as a people carrier, Columbia was to serve as a bedroom, bathroom, office, observatory, dining room and recreation area for three men for more than a week.

The spacecraft carried two copies of the flightplan (each weighing a couple of pounds) together with a further 20lb of other data and documentation. The paperwork alone required an additional 5,000lb of propellant at launch.

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Documentation with some serious thud-value. No iPads in the 1960s!

For most of its journey to the Moon the vehicle was exposed to the Sun, with the risk that while one side baked in temperatures exceeding 250°F, the opposite side would be left to freeze at minus 250°.

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Difficulties I would never have even considered. Guess that's why I'm not a rocket scientist.

The electricity required to run the spacecraft's computer, lights, instruments and other systems was supplied by three fuel cells, each of which generated power by combining hydrogen and oxygen.

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They had hydrogen fuel cells in Apollo 11 and we still don't have them to power our cars?

It was the arduous ordeal of defecation that really tested the men's resolve.

Throughout the history of manned space-flight only 24 people have ever gone further than Earth orbit, all of them Apollo astronauts

Frank had thrown up and then suffered diarrhoea, leaving particles of vomit and faeces floating about the cabin. They had to be chased down by Anders and Lovell using paper towels, as if swotting a swarm of insects.

Although it's sometimes erroneously described as the dark side, the truth is the Moon does not have a permanent 'dark side' any more than the Earth does.

Travelling east to west

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When you're orbiting the moon, is there really still an east and west? Has someone defined it?

Norman Mailer wrote that Armstrong 'surrendered words about as happily as a hound allowed meat to be pulled out of his teeth'.

Up to this point, the fuel in Eagle's tanks had been floating in weightlessness. When the thrust from the engine caused it to settle, Houston had a chance to assess the quantity consumed during the previous burn.

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Yet more complexity to moving about in space. Amazingly challenging.

Once outside on the porch, the first thing Neil did was throw out the bag, containing empty food trays and other equipment which couldn't be used again.

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First thing the Apollo 11 astronauts did when they got out of the Lunar Module on the moon was to drop some litter!

Before a television audience of 600 million people, a fifth of the human population

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My, how we've grown since then!

'That's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.'

Armstrong thought the ground beside his feet was a charcoal grey, 'the colour of a lead pencil'.

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That's exactly the colour of the moon rock on display at the Science Museum in London.

As Buzz paused on the ladder, television viewers saw a man apparently taking time to reflect. In fact Buzz was relieving himself before jumping down to the landing pad.

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Be down in a minute, just need a quick wee first.

Buzz, his gold visor pulled down, stands with his left arm raised as he prepares to read from the checklist on his glove, in what has since become one of the most iconic photographs of all time.

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*That's* why his arm is raised in the photo!

If the Earth were the size of a football, this re-entry corridor would be little thicker than the edge of a sheet of paper.

At launch, Apollo 11 had been heavier than 3,300 tons; now all that remained was the command module, which weighed less than six.

At 5,000°F, temperatures outside the spacecraft were hotter than the exhaust from the F-1 engines that had launched the men eight days earlier.

Since Apollo 17 returned from the Moon in 1972, no-one has travelled any further than a few hundred miles above the atmosphere.

In the quest for moon rocks, NASA left 118 tons of waste material on the lunar surface

When filmmaker Bart Sibrel confronted Aldrin, in 2002, calling him 'a thief, liar and coward', Buzz (who was 72 at the time) punched him in the face.