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Moon Lander : How We Developed the Apollo Lunar Module
Chief engineer Thomas J. Kelly gives a firsthand account of designing, building, testing, and flying the Apollo lunar module. It was, he writes, "an aerospace engineer's dream job of the century." Kelly's account begins with the imaginative process of sketching solutions to a host of technical challenges with an emphasis on safety, reliability, and maintainability. He catalogs numerous test failures, including propulsion-system leaks, ascent-engine instability, stress corrosion of the aluminum alloy parts, and battery problems, as well as their fixes under the ever-present constraints of budget and schedule. He also recaptures the exhilaration of hearing Apollo 11's Neil Armstrong report that "The Eagle has landed," and the pride of having inadvertently provided a vital "lifeboat" for the crew of the disabled Apollo 13.
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September 11, 2009
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Excerpt from Moon Lander by Thomas J. Kelly
"It was the first space launch [Apollo 5] we had seen firsthand, and it did not disappoint in spectacle and beauty. First we beheld the brilliant orange flame of the Saturn 1B, then the agonizing wait until the hold-down clamps were released and the rocket began its slow climb upward alongside the launch tower finally clearing it. Then came the heavy, deep-throated roar of the mighty engines, simultaneously pressing down from the sky and upward, like an earthquake, from below the ground. Set majestically against the rose, purple, and deep blue of the dusky sky, the blazing torch of the rocket lit up the approaching night for miles around. It was a thrilling sight but also reminded me of the inherent risk of our whole enterprise. So much raw power unleashed in such a short time!"--from Chapter 13