FALLING TO EARTH by Al Worden

FALLING TO EARTH

An Apollo 15 Astronaut's Journey to the Moon

KIRKUS REVIEW

With the assistance of space historian French (co-author: In the Shadow of the Moon: A Challenging Journey to Tranquility, 1965-1969, 2007, etc.), astronaut Worden, commander of the Apollo 15 module, writes that “it is time to…set the record straight” about the scandal that ended his career in space flight.

The author flew under Col. Dave Scott with Jim Irwin on the successful 1971 NASA trip to the Moon. When they returned to Earth, the crew found themselves in the midst of a scandal, accused of being paid to take souvenir items into space. Although they denied this, they were grounded from then on. By the summer of 1972, the U.S. Senate was involved, and Congresswoman Leonor Sullivan wanted to know “what's going on at NASA.” They were never charged with violating law or NASA regulations, but it took years for the three flyers to get their good names back. Worden, now in his late 70s, has a record that speaks for itself. He is one of “only 24 humans” who have left Earth’s orbit and gone to the Moon. The author describes how astronauts need courage and skill to fly on the Apollo missions and how they had to be prepared to deal with the unexpected: “We focused on the events that could kill us and prepared for them.” Apollo 15, with its on-board instruments and cameras, brought back a treasure trove of data, but they faced many potentially dangerous situations including fragments of broken glass in the weightless environment of the landing module. Worden now helps the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation fund the training of future science and technology students.

On his journey, the author “discovered far more” about the Earth, not only from space, but also in the time and effort spent vindicating himself from what appears to have been an unfair scapegoating.

 

Pub Date: July 12th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-58834-309-3
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Smithsonian Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2011




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