2017 year Reviews

Apollo Program Development Plan

Robert Godwin (Ed),

Apogee Books, 2017, 220pp, softback


ISBN 978-1926592-30-5

So many books have been published on the Apollo programme that, one feels, if their titles were listed one-per-line, one would end up with another book on the Apollo programme! In the spirit of delving behind the headlines, this book gets down to the nitty-gritty of Apollo by presenting ‘the development programme for the Apollo programme’.

As the blurb reveals, the book contains “the entire plan, as it was summarized for a very limited number of people who were highly placed in the organizational structure”. The volume is a facsimile of NASA’s plan for Apollo dated 15 January 1965, which comprises 17 sections and a distribution list.

Space historians will consider this a fascinating reference document. Its relatively early date is reflected in some of the diagrams which show, for example, a “Lunar Excursion Module” with a cylindrical egress hatch (and no ladder!), a Saturn V without its distinctive black stripes, and an early sketch of the “vertical” (not vehicle) assembly building (VAB). It also contains a two-page fold-out of the “lunar orbital rendezvous mode”, which is an interesting document in itself.

But even non-space buffs with a penchant for management systems will find something in the book to whet their appetite, as a result of the Apollo programme’s ground-breaking role in developing organisational systems for large-scale projects. The “Apollo Program Government-Industry Functional Matrix” is almost a work of art: a mega-pie chart with six main segments and dozens of sub-segments displays, for example, how the spacesuit manufacturer reported to the Manned Spacecraft Center and the Crawler transporter supplier reported to Kennedy Space Center. Most people consider the Apollo programme a triumph of engineering and technology, which indeed it was, but beneath the rockets, modules, capsules and widgets was a management system that simply did not exist before Apollo. And people ask what we got out of going to the Moon!

Mark Williamson, Chester, UK

Popular articles

Popular articles

Iris will provide a safe and secure text-based data link between pilots and air traffic control (ATC) networks using satellite technology. Environment

Prioritising space solutions to accelerate sustainable development

Technology supports the needs and the goals of people Astronautics

Building the future of space manufacturing