Moon Lander: How We Developed the Apollo Lunar Module

Moon Lander: How We Developed the Apollo Lunar Module

by Thomas J. Kelly


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781588342737
Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Press
Publication date: 09/11/2009
Pages: 283
Sales rank: 653,121
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

The recipient of a Grumman Engineering Scholarship upon graduating from high school, Thomas J. Kelly worked for the company for more than forty years, retiring in 1992. Now an aerospace and computer consultant, he lives in Cutchogue, New York.

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Moon Lander

How We Developed the Apollo Lunar Module
By Thomas J. Kelly

Smithsonian Books

Copyright © 2009 Thomas J. Kelly
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781588342737

“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


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