LOST MOON by Jim Lovell


The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13
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 In another of this year's lunar memorial volumes, Lovell, commander of Apollo 13, vividly recalls that nearly disastrous moon mission in superb, measured, dramatic prose. It was to have been NASA's third lunar landing. But on April 13, 1970, almost 56 hours and 200,000 miles away from Earth, an explosion aboard the spacecraft left astronauts Lovell, Fred Haise, and John Swigert with almost no power and less than two hours' worth of oxygen. If something wasn't done, the three men would soon suffocate and the crippled craft would continue in an ``absurd, egg-shaped orbit...for millennia.'' While the world watched and waited, inescapable comparisons were drawn with the January 1967 tragedy in which Gus Grissom, Roger Chaffee, and Ed White were killed in an explosion during a dress rehearsal for the first manned Apollo mission. The authors (Kluger is a contributing editor of Discover) provide a gripping version of that event and an excellent history of the whole Apollo program. Lovell had been on Apollo 8, the first manned ``trans-lunar journey,'' and his description of his initial glimpse of the moon as the spacecraft began orbit is extraordinary. But sightseeing was far from his mind when Apollo 13 went haywire. The scientists at Mission Control, those ``responsible for keeping the mechanical organism alive in a place that it really had no business being,'' put the spacecraft through a series of maneuvers that they could only hope would return the astronauts safely. Lovell and his men, meanwhile, abandoned ship, climbing into the tiny but intact lunar excursion module (LEM), where they stayed until just prior to splashdown. They then returned to the command module, jettisoned the LEM, and landed in the Pacific, shaken and ill from their ordeal. Even the hard science comes clear here. Lovell and Kluger recapture--and rekindle--our sense of awe and wonder at manned space flight. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 20th, 1994
ISBN: 0-395-67029-2
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1994


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