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Sunburst and Luminary: An Apollo Memoir

Price:
$32.00
ISBN:
9780986385902
Weight:
24.0 Ounces
Expected release date is 3/1/2018


Other Details

Author:
Don Eyles
Format:
Hardcover
Page Count:
376
Special offer:
This books ships for free in the United States

Product Description

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.


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