ASE logo The Astronomical Society of Edinburgh


No 62 - March 2010

Book review: Haynes manual - Apollo 11

  Haynes manual book cover

Christopher Riley, Phil Dolling (2009). NASA mission AS-506 - Apollo 11 - 1969 (including Saturn V, CM-107, SM-107, LM-5) - Owner's workshop manual - An insight into the hardware from the first manned mission to land on the Moon. Haynes Publishing, Yeovil, Somerset. ISBN 978 1 84425 683 9. Hardcover, 27.2x20.8x1.6 cm, 196 pages, several photos or illustrations per page. £17.99 rrp.

Riley is co-director of the documentary In the Shadow of the Moon, Riley and Dolling both are regular contributors to the BBC's science programming. Fortunately, they take the joke of writing a Haynes manual for a spacecraft instead of your real-life car no further than the cover. The book is about the technology that took astronauts to the Moon, and implicitly about the 400,000 humans that made it happen.

There are chapters about the Saturn rocket, the Apollo spacecraft proper (command and service module), and the Lunar Module. Other chapters deal with guidance and navigation, space suits, and the communication links. The text recounts the technology in simple terms and the history of the technological progress in good detail. As someone who on occasion will slot GBytes of RAM into motherboards, I like best the story of the Little Old Ladies ROM: Onboard software was stored in read-only memory, which was woven from copper wires and magnetic cores. Software was not patched by editing, the 32 kByte had to be tediously re-knitted.

The book is full of drawings and photographs, chosen for their information content and relevance to the technical description. Many photographs make you go "ah that's how it works", but you will probably not find these in other publications. Some drawings are difficult to read in detail, but this does not distract from the narrative. The book is about Apollo 11, including the entire Apollo programme leading up to it. Apollo 12 to 17 are dealt with only very briefly in the final chapter.

The appendices decipher the acronyms and provide tables of the missions and of the disposal of the various parts, from the Apollo 10 Command Module in London to the Apollo 10 Lunar Module in solar orbit.

Horst Meyerdierks


Cover page

Haynes manual - Apollo 11

Annual General Meeting

Annual Report for 2009

International Astronomical Youth Camp

Solar minimum

Society news

Forthcoming events

About the ASE Journal

This journal as a single web page

This journal as PDF file (230 kByte)

web: ISSN 1756-5111
print: ISSN 1756-5103

Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict Valid CSS!