16 January 2024 Reviews

Artemis I - Return to the Moon

More than 50 years since the Apollo programme delivered its final two astronauts to the lunar surface on the Apollo 17 mission, NASA’s renewed focus on the Moon is embodied within the Artemis programme. This little book tells the story of the lead-up to the Artemis I mission of November/December 2022.

The summary on the back cover provides an accurate description: “A highly illustrated guide to the development of spacecraft in the endeavour to put humans back on the Moon”. It is indeed highly illustrated, to the extent that the descriptive text takes second place behind the informative colour photos and diagrams, giving the book the look and feel of a small format brochure. Moreover, it is devoid of an index, which adds to this impression.

That said, the text is well written and to the point. We learn about the abortive attempts to return to the Moon with the Constellation programme and its Ares launch vehicles. We get a feel for the politics involved in the transition to the Space Launch System (SLS) and the various capsules on offer from government and NewSpace alike. But it is the final 30-odd pages of the chapter titled ‘Artemis Rising’ that give a blow-by-blow account of that first mission. One can’t help but feel that the text is a regurgitation of the author’s articles in Spaceflight magazine, but it’s a capable and informative summary.

Assuming the Artemis programme continues to be funded and developed, one would expect to see similar small format books in the same series on subsequent missions. Watch this space!

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