Reflector Book Review:
Lost Moon: The Perilous
Voyage of Apollo 13
Category: Space Flight
Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13
by Jim Lovell and Jeffery Kluger
Houghton Mifflin, 1994
I had insomnia Monday night, April
13, 1970. It was close to midnight when it occurred
to me that getting drowsy might be easier to accomplish
while listening to the Washington, D.C., all night station
WTOP. Just the opposite occurred, because a special
news bulletin declared that, while the Apollo 13 astronauts
were nearing the Moon, an explosion disrupted their
spacecraft and they were in big trouble.
I'll never forget the morbid fascination
which kept me up late with the radio, listening to the
awful news most people would first hear over their breakfast.
Now, 25 years later, Jim Lovell tells what it was like
to be there.
The astronaut's immediate danger was
the loss of both oxygen and directional control of their
craft. They had to huddle in the Lunar Excursion Module
(LEM - built for two men, not three) for several days,
while rationing heat, water, oxygen, and food. They
had to attempt sleep in the nearly abandoned 34 degree
command module. They needed more than the usual number
of mid-course corrections, but they were almost unable
to navigate, since they couldn't locate any navigational
stars through te windows frosted and blocked by ices
vented from their ruptured service module.
Their radios didn't work properly.
The LEM blew a battery and a helium tank. Fred Haise
developed a kidney infection and a fever. But make it
home they did, with the help of the dedicated engineers
on the ground.
Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage
of Apollo 13 is unevenly written. Some parts flow
well, but one is advised to skip over some sections
to get to the "the good parts." I could have done without
a lengthy tale of Mrs. Lovell receiving a mink stole
as a gift while her hubby was in space.
But I recommend this book to all those
interested in the Apollo program, and those wishing
to know what kind of bravery it takes to have the right
stuff in the face of disaster.
(From the Mason-Dixon Astronomer,
newsletter of the Westminster (MD) Astronomical Society,
Reviewed in the May 1995 issue.