Sunday, 20 January 2008

The Lunar Exploration Scrapbook, Robert Godwin

This handsomely-presented hardback volume is subtitled "A Pictorial history of Lunar Vehicles". In it, Godwin has brought together all the various proposals and designs for lunar vehicles - landers, bases and rovers - and presented them in full colour. There are photographs of mock-ups, blueprints and artist's impressions. Godwin has also created 3D computer graphics of many of the vehicles.

The evolution of the Apollo LM is documented, and the various designs it went through are well illustrated. Other designs - particularly those from Boeing - were far more ambitious, and their rovers resemble the huge lunar vehicles of science fiction. Among the stranger ideas presented, I liked the Winged Apollo by North American Rockwell in 1967. By adding two protruding fairings, it was thought the CSM could fly like a lifting body and so land on a runway. It's not the Space Shuttle by any means, but it could have been a valuable step
forward to reusable spacecraft. Other designs are stranger still: the lenticular CSM proposal from the Martin Company, for example, looks like the starship Enterprise.

The Lunar Exploration Scrapbook is an excellent study of what-ifs and what-might-have-beens. It's very well-presented, is well indexed, and is definitely worth having in your collection. It is only available from the Apogee Books web site. Recommended.

The Lunar Exploration Scrapbook, Robert Godwin (2007, Apogee Books, ISBN 9781-1894959-81-0, 221pp)

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