Racing to the Moon


This book is built around the very human stories of the engineers (we’ve heard enough about the astronauts) who built a machine that took men to the moon and back. In less than eight years, they built a great big machine that took people to the surface of the moon and back. The authors have a real flair for digging into the details that make the stories and the people come to life, underscoring this is how it really happened. All engineers should read this book; it’s immensely entertaining, but it’s also a real sourcebook of stories about how to get extraordinarily complex engineering projects done on time and on budget. Caldwell Johnson, one of the lead designers of the Apollo vehicle, sums it up well:

After a while, you really become appalled that you’ve gotten yourself involved in the thing. At first, it’s an academic exercise. And then the first thing you know, there’s people building these things, and they are really getting ready to do it, and you start thinking: Have I made a real bad judgment somewhere, and the damn thing is just not going to work at all?

Star Chamber reference: July 21, 2000.