Loading... Please wait...

Sunburst and Luminary: An Apollo Memoir


Product Description

Receive free shipping on US orders. Use coupon code FREESUNBURST at check out. 


A New Perspective on the Space Program in the 1960s

Fresh out of college, the author goes to work for the MIT laboratory that designed the Apollo guidance system. His assignment is to program the complex lunar landing phase in the Lunar Module’s onboard computer. As he masters his art the reader learns about the computer, the mission, and a bit about spacecraft navigation — and meets a cast of interesting characters along the way.

As Apollo 11 approaches, the author flies lunar landings in simulators and meets the astronauts who will fly the LM for real. He explains the computer alarms that almost prevented Neil Armstrong from landing — and describes a narrow escape from another dangerous problem. He helps Pete Conrad achieve a pinpoint landing on Apollo 12, and works with Apollo 16 commander John Young on a technique for landing even more precisely. On Apollo 14 he devises a workaround when a faulty pushbutton threatens Alan Shepard’s mission, earning a NASA award, a story in Rolling Stone, and a few lines in the history books.

Along the way the author hits the high points of his eclectic personal life, as he enters adulthood in the 1960s. He writes for students of the Apollo project, for whom the development of the flight software is still largely unexplored territory, but also for the young coders of the current digital culture, who will get the author's observations on the art of programming — and who may identify as he explores sex, drugs, and the other excitements of the era.

The underlying thesis is that the American space program in the 1960s was successful not in spite of, but in large measure because of the idealism, the freedom of thought, and the sense of exploration, inner and outer, that prevailed in the culture during that period.

The memoir concludes in a party atmosphere at the spectacular night launch of Apollo 17 before a glittery crowd — an occasion that marked the high water mark, so far, of human space exploration.

Foreword by Apollo 15 commander Dave Scott.

Includes glossary, bibliography, notes, and index.

About the author

Don Eyles worked on the Apollo Project from 1966 through 1972, and on the NASA space program until 1998, as a computer scientist at the MIT Instrumentation Lab and the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He created flight software for the lunar landing phase of the Moon mission, and invented a sequencing system that is in use on the International Space Station. He is currently a writer, photographer and sculptor working in Boston. For more information, visit sunburstandluminary.com.

Other Details

Don Eyles
Page Count:
Special offer:
This books ships for free in the United States

Find Similar Products by Category

Write your own product review

Product Reviews

  1. Exciting and revealing look at Apollo, the Lunar Landing, computer and control development, and successful teamwork 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 27th Nov 2018

    The book is wonderfull and full of suspense, even though we know the outcome. The casual remembrance style, with references to other happenings in the World - works perfectly to keep the author's actions in context with history unfolding around him. The in depth explanation of how the computer system worked and how it was programmed, was very easy to grasp and thought provoking, especially when looking at the world around us. I expect this to be great reading for all generations to understand the way computers developed, and how the world has changed its outlook in this recent past (50 Years.) The autho's insights added flavor, earnestness, and meaning to events known to the world at large.

  2. Rare, precise, historical value. 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 28th Jun 2018

    Rare story about the inside of the Apollo LEM design. The book take many attention to the details and to the emotional context of that time.

Add to Wish List

Click the button below to add the Sunburst and Luminary: An Apollo Memoir to your wish list.

You Recently Viewed...