The Man Who Knew The Way to the Moon
The story of John C. Houbolt, an unsung hero of Apollo 11 and the man who showed NASA how to put America on the moon. Without John C. Houbolt, a junior engineer at NASA, Apollo 11 would never have made it to the moon. Top NASA engineers on the project, including Werner Von Braun, strongly advocated for a single, huge spacecraft to travel to the moon, land, and return to Earth. It's the scenario used in 1950s cartoons and horror movies about traveling to outer space. Houbolt had another idea: Lunar Orbit Rendezvous. LOR would link two spacecraft in orbit while the crafts were travelling at 17,000 miles per hour. His plan was ridiculed and considered unthinkable. But this junior engineer was irrepressible. He stood by his concept, fired off memos to executives, and argued that LOR was the only way to success. For the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, hear the untold story of the man who helped fulfill Kennedy’s challenge to reach the moon and begin exploring the final frontier.

The Man Who Knew The Way to the Moon Details

TitleThe Man Who Knew The Way to the Moon
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 4th, 2019
PublisherAudible Studios
Rating
GenreNonfiction, History, Audiobook, Science, Biography

The Man Who Knew The Way to the Moon Review

  • Steve
    January 1, 1970
    A fascinating look at how NASA decided to use the Lunar Orbital Rendezvous to get to the Moon and back. At least that part was interesting. The sad part was the moaning and complaining from John Houbolt, and how he spent the rest of his life angry and frustrated that he didn't get the recognition he thought he deserved. Sad, really.
    more
  • Andrew Bulthaupt
    January 1, 1970
    I listened to this book via Audible.I was familiar with John C. Houbolt's contributions to the Apollo program thanks to the seminal HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon, so when I saw the Audible Original about the man who championed Lunar Orbit Rendezvous (LOR) I knew I had to listen.The production is a fantastic overview of Houbolt, giving you information on his background and upbringing, which gives context to his actions in the early 1960s at NASA. It was interesting to learn about his I listened to this book via Audible.I was familiar with John C. Houbolt's contributions to the Apollo program thanks to the seminal HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon, so when I saw the Audible Original about the man who championed Lunar Orbit Rendezvous (LOR) I knew I had to listen.The production is a fantastic overview of Houbolt, giving you information on his background and upbringing, which gives context to his actions in the early 1960s at NASA. It was interesting to learn about his struggles to get LOR considered for the moon landings and the ultimate cost it had on him.I appreciate the balanced approach the author takes, doing his best to explain all sides to the story. He never paints Houbolt as perfect or infallible, and in fact acknowledges some of his flaws. It definitely feels like you get the full story here, or as close to it as you can get without having lived through it.If you're inspired by the accomplishments of the Apollo program and NASA in the sixties, give this a listen!
    more
  • Cammie
    January 1, 1970
    Fascinating behind-the-scenes details about the moon landing 50 years ago.
  • Lis Carey
    January 1, 1970
    John C. Houboldt was a airplane engineer who worked for NASA, and became interested, in some ways obsessed with, the Moon program that he logically ought to have no role in.In the late 1950s and early 1960s, there were already, before President Kennedy ever made his speech committing the US to get to the Moon and back before the end of the 1960s, space program scientists were already working on how to do it. There were three basic approaches--the direct approach, using a single large rocket to l John C. Houboldt was a airplane engineer who worked for NASA, and became interested, in some ways obsessed with, the Moon program that he logically ought to have no role in.In the late 1950s and early 1960s, there were already, before President Kennedy ever made his speech committing the US to get to the Moon and back before the end of the 1960s, space program scientists were already working on how to do it. There were three basic approaches--the direct approach, using a single large rocket to lift from Earth, land on its tail on the Moon, and return home; Earth rendezvous, lifting smaller units into Earth orbit and the vehicle to reach the Moon there; and lunar orbital rendezvous. Lunar orbital rendezvous is the methods used in the end: the command module waiting in lunar orbit while the lunar lander brought two members of the crew to the surface of the Moon and back.Lunar orbital rendezvous may seem inevitable now, but initially it was the least-favored serious approach. John C. Houboldt, first-generation American, son of Dutch immigrants, airplane engineer rather than a rocket engineer, heard the debate going on, did his own research--and became a major, and persistent, advocate for lunar orbital rendezvous as the only way to get to the Moon by Kennedy's deadline.Houboldt's time at NASA was contentious and stressful for him. Some of his troubles may have been due to personality conflicts as much as disagreement over his ideas. Yet he never claimed to have originated the lunar orbital rendezvous plan, and his advocacy for it, in addition to being correct, probably played a major role in the plan being adopted.Zwillich gives us an even-handed and really interesting account of this part of NASA history.Recommended.This was one of Audible's free offerings for members this month.
    more
  • Penny
    January 1, 1970
    (Audible)3.5-4.0 stars The audio production explores the contribution of Apollo program engineer John C. Houbolt, a NASA associate at Langley Research Center. An aeronautic engineer, not assigned to the space program, he was an early advocate (zealot) of the Lunar Orbit Rendezvous as the most economical and fastest strategy for putting man on the moon and returning them to the earth safely.The production includes sound bites from the period, as well as interviews with Houbolt's wife (Houbolt pas (Audible)3.5-4.0 stars The audio production explores the contribution of Apollo program engineer John C. Houbolt, a NASA associate at Langley Research Center. An aeronautic engineer, not assigned to the space program, he was an early advocate (zealot) of the Lunar Orbit Rendezvous as the most economical and fastest strategy for putting man on the moon and returning them to the earth safely.The production includes sound bites from the period, as well as interviews with Houbolt's wife (Houbolt passed away in 2014).The book (which has more of the feel of a podcast) presents 1960's business culture--white male, hierarchical driven, stiff upper lip--DO NOT VIOLATE THE CHAIN OF COMMAND--in all of it's competitive, shaming and blaming glory. Houbolt is humiliated at a meeting in 1961 when a superior calls him a liar, aka--your math is wrong, and his crusade to prove his point becomes so ingrained that the rest of his life he works obsessively to get them to apologize and admit they were wrong. Even when his LOR plan is adopted, he's not pacified because the SOB's attempt to rewrite history and claim someone else was the earliest advocate. They even go so far as to kill a $100,000 award that was due to him for his efforts.Through all of this, Houbolt writes and writes and writes and advocates for himself with an aggrieved and petulant and sometimes angry tone to every authority he can think of. The historic record gives a clue as to he might have been unloved and lacked the respect of the peers he was beating up on.And --so classic for this period--his wife knew nothing of the work he was doing, the fights he was having with his superiors until reporters showed up at their house to do a story on him for TIME magazine.Overall Houbolt's story is a sad one, and not just for the way he was treated.I enjoyed the dip back into a period of American exceptionalism. The Mercury and Apollo space programs are deeply ingrained in me. So much so that I made my sister ride Mission Earth--full intensity--at DisneyWorld--and didn't even notice when she got sick from the ride. I was ready to do it again!Sorry Kath.RECOMMEND
    more
  • Becky Carr
    January 1, 1970
    2.5-2.75 this was a free audible perk and for being free it was ok. I really did like the interviews with various historians and ppl related to the Apollo missions but I found some small factual inaccuracies which right from the beginning raised some red flags. I then looked to see the author’s background and turns out he does stuff with public tv and isn’t a scientist or historian which becomes evident as the story continues and he orders it strangely and is vague on scientific details. He irri 2.5-2.75 this was a free audible perk and for being free it was ok. I really did like the interviews with various historians and ppl related to the Apollo missions but I found some small factual inaccuracies which right from the beginning raised some red flags. I then looked to see the author’s background and turns out he does stuff with public tv and isn’t a scientist or historian which becomes evident as the story continues and he orders it strangely and is vague on scientific details. He irritatingly repeats certain parts (example: that time the guy publicly humiliates him or that time they don’t even invite him to the meeting 😢) the repetitiveness of his writing and the author’s narration (which kind of sounded like when an adult reads to a kid and over emphasizes everything) was irritating. Only get this for free, don’t use a credit on it
    more
  • Geoff
    January 1, 1970
    Thank good this was available for free. I got it, small man was right and big organization wasn’t ready to hear it. He got recognized wii magazines and peers within the time frame he needed to be recognized. He wasn’t shut out, even though he left nasa. Only thing interesting learned within this book is how wrong and how stubborn the “best” minds of nasa really were.
    more
  • David Czuba
    January 1, 1970
    This was an exceptional exploration of the contribution of Apollo program engineer John C. Houbolt, a NASA associate at Langley Research Center in North Virginia. Houbolt understood, perhaps more than anyone at the time, the singularity of using lunar-orbit rendezvous as the only acceptable mode to return the manned Apollo spacecraft safely from the moon after landing. This modular approach stood in stark contrast to the direct mode, in which a full-sized rocket loaded with propellant landed on, This was an exceptional exploration of the contribution of Apollo program engineer John C. Houbolt, a NASA associate at Langley Research Center in North Virginia. Houbolt understood, perhaps more than anyone at the time, the singularity of using lunar-orbit rendezvous as the only acceptable mode to return the manned Apollo spacecraft safely from the moon after landing. This modular approach stood in stark contrast to the direct mode, in which a full-sized rocket loaded with propellant landed on, and then took off from the moon in one piece, leaving no 'base' behind on the moon's surface, and not needing to dock with a 'mothership' in lunar orbit, or detach from a 'service module' in order to re-enter Earth's atmosphere. The direct mode seems reasonable until you see the enormity of the rocket. It is the way Hollywood represented space travel, and the scientists were married to this vision. In the process of trying to convince his NASA superiors of the practicality of lunar-orbit rendezvous to save propellant, spacecraft weight, money, and - that most precious of resources - time, Houbolt rubbed people the wrong way by going around the chain of command, a risky strategy in those days of hierarchical management bureaucracies. Consider what happened to Thomas Baron, a North American employee who was deemed "overzealous" in exposing problems with Apollo's command module. Baron noted all kinds of deficiencies in the Apollo 1 capsule. His criticism was not welcomed by his peers or North American managers. That capsule was a deathtrap that killed astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee in a test on the launch pad. Not six days after Baron submitted a 500 page report on safety lapses in the command module construction, he and his family were killed when a NASA train collided with their station wagon. Although no culpability was found, one can easily form in the mind the kind of controversy that could have upended the order of high-powered administrators, politicians, and their corruptible cronies. One can easily imagine conspiracies. In John Houbolt's case, the conspiracies were real and protracted, often spelled out by his detractors on plain paper in brilliantly ironic wording any reasonable person would find incriminating as to motives and actions. Houbolt endured a lot of suffering to forward the plan of Apollo. Author Todd Zwillich lays out the events in a clear sequence that offers the reader a promontory on which to view the players and come to perhaps differing, though compatible conclusions, which aren't forced on the reader. The conclusion I came to was that John Houbolt was obsessively stubborn, and couldn't let his grudges go. Perhaps lesser men would have done so. Perhaps that is why they were lesser men. Zwillich interviewed other engineers who claim they would not have stuck their necks out as Houbolt did, risking career and earning potential amid damning character assassination, not to mention ridicule if he, a crank, were proved wrong instead of right. It is a hard lesson to swallow, that if we validly and vociferously critique who appear to be our higher-ups, we invite equal criticism for that exposure. Zwillich makes his case like a lawyer, worthy of Houbolt's own ability to build the evidence for and against the LEO mode, to give to the decision-makers to decide Apollo's ultimate fate. That decision to use lunar-orbit rendezvous was proved right, especially when Apollo 13 astronauts Lovell, Haise, and Mattingly used the lunar lander as a lifeboat to wait out the return to Earth, because the crippled command module was not able to support their lives that long, having only enough resources to make atmospheric re-entry to Earth, and that was on thin ice. Houbolt's persistence led to the choice of LEO in the design of the mission, a solid decision that accomplished John F. Kennedy's goal and provided room for recovery when things went horribly wrong. Houbolt's a hero, that's my conclusion.
    more
  • Richard Haas III
    January 1, 1970
    The story about John Houbolt is an extremely important and fascinating one, and I’m honestly shocked that I didn’t know more about his story or his contribution to getting us on the moon. Essentially that alone is what makes this Audible Original audiobook worth it in the first place, and probably should be more accessible in other mediums too. Now while the meat of the content is good, there are a few issues I have with the book.While listening to the book, John Houbolt reminded me a lot of Bil The story about John Houbolt is an extremely important and fascinating one, and I’m honestly shocked that I didn’t know more about his story or his contribution to getting us on the moon. Essentially that alone is what makes this Audible Original audiobook worth it in the first place, and probably should be more accessible in other mediums too. Now while the meat of the content is good, there are a few issues I have with the book.While listening to the book, John Houbolt reminded me a lot of Bill Finger, who co-created Batman and was denied credit for years but the main difference was Houbolt was even more determined and extremely stubborn while he was alive to get the credit he deserves. Some reviewers see his persistence as annoying or disrespectful to his superiors and I can see that. I don’t fully agree with all his decisions, but I respect the hell out of him. I know how it feels to be in his position— albeit not it such a grand scale, but same position nonetheless. To be fair, the issues I have don’t revolve much around Houbolt himself or his actions other than maybe they aren’t as worthy of receiving the often dragged out detail the author gave them. In fact most of the issues I have is with the structure of the audiobook and how it was written.For the most part the writing is on point, but I wish when describing things that would have an effect of people (especially John) long term, Zwillich had the tendency to revert to the phrase “for years,” which took me out of it given how often it was said. I’d say that was a reasonably small issue and to tell you the truth, most of my issues are. The book at times felt too long and stretched out, and the repetitive phrase began to highlight that as I began to notice that whole concepts and events were repeated in either simplified fashion or elongated in detail just to edge the audiobook to almost four hours when I’m nearly positive it could have told it in two and a half.That frustrated me a little bit, and honestly so did the audio clips of Houbolt himself because I found myself more interested in hearing his words directly than I did about Zwillich reciting them. Houbolt was onstage in some sort of Q&A and the audiobook used maybe three or four snippets from it in short bursts and it got to a point where I’m thinking, if you’re gonna use it, why not just use most of it? Maybe this is an unfair criticism, but the format of the audiobook played out like an audio docuseries holding out on hearing Houbolt’s literal and figurative voice. It could be unfair but while listening it felt like I was speaking to someone about someone else, when that other person is standing next to me. Additionally, this leans into historical and biographer Bill Cozzi (not quite sure on the spelling). Nearly quoted as much or even more than Houbolt’s own wife, we get to hear about the story through the research and investigation of someone else from a book they are writing in this book. It’s like writing a book about somebody using quotes from someone else who is writing about the same person. To me that was a little weird.Ultimately for me, the exclusion of Houbolt’s full Q&A and the inclusion of Houbolt’s biographer made the audiobook feel disjointed and awkwardly put together; however, as I mentioned before, the content and story alone is compelling and important enough for me to look past these small issues. I really hope John Houbolt’s story gets fleshed out in a movie some day.
    more
  • Catherine Puma
    January 1, 1970
    This 3.5 hour Audible Original production is about the NASA engineer John Houbolt, who was the earliest advocator for lunar orbital rendezvous. While he did not invent the concept, he was a champion for getting the idea considered by upper level NASA decision-making management personnel. Houbolt distributed memos, sent off frustrated letters, gave pitching proposal presentations, and was on a team that wrote a 100+ page report detailing how to pull off the engineering and funding for the strateg This 3.5 hour Audible Original production is about the NASA engineer John Houbolt, who was the earliest advocator for lunar orbital rendezvous. While he did not invent the concept, he was a champion for getting the idea considered by upper level NASA decision-making management personnel. Houbolt distributed memos, sent off frustrated letters, gave pitching proposal presentations, and was on a team that wrote a 100+ page report detailing how to pull off the engineering and funding for the strategy. A lot of space exploration fans are aware of different missions and astronauts, and many are aware that JFK's charismatic speech about getting an American man on the moon by the end of the decade came as a shock to the NASA community. While many were studying theories behind how to get men on the moon, accomplishing the feat within a specific time-frame (even with a large budget) was extremely challenging. This work is important because not everyone is aware of how we decided to get to the moon in the way that we did. This audio performance is put together in a scientific journalism style with discussions from people who knew Houbolt (including his now 92 year old wife) and clips from Houbolt's interviews with the news media. This is good at telling a story that kids aren't really taught in school when learning about the space race. This focuses on the politics happening within NASA and the people skills needed that lead to deciding the strategy for getting USA astronauts on the moon. Houbolt is a complicated hero. He was dogmatic, stubborn, and he stepped out of line because he believed in lunar orbital rendezvous so much. His proposal was really good and ended up being the strategy that we used to get to the moon. His story wouldn't be as important if his proposal wasn't approved, and he wouldn't be celebrated at all if it hadn't worked. Houbolt's proposal is estimated to have saved the government billions of dollars in program costs, and every other plan on the table probably would have gotten us there later than when JFK wanted. I wish that this had focused a bit more on the science. Also, during his years at NASA advocating for this before anyone listened to him, what else was he working on? And while he wasn't the only one to write that 100+ page report on how to actually accomplish this idea, no one else on his team is mentioned. Did any lower level engineers he managed stay at NASA after he quit to help see his ideas through to completion? This was really interesting and a great read for the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. I just wish it was a little tighter on the technical logistics of how stuff got done, and less about random human relation impressions.
    more
  • PJ Jones
    January 1, 1970
    I finished this book last week, and just realized I didn't add my review to Goodreads. The following review is what I left on Audible.com.This Audible Original is a real eye-opener. It’s the story of the man behind the Lunar Orbit Rendevous (LOR). It’s how the moon landings became possible by allowing a “module” to separate and land on the moon, then take off again and dock with the Lunar orbiter in order to return to the Earth. But, there is a lot of conflict behind the scenes and a lot of back I finished this book last week, and just realized I didn't add my review to Goodreads. The following review is what I left on Audible.com.This Audible Original is a real eye-opener. It’s the story of the man behind the Lunar Orbit Rendevous (LOR). It’s how the moon landings became possible by allowing a “module” to separate and land on the moon, then take off again and dock with the Lunar orbiter in order to return to the Earth. But, there is a lot of conflict behind the scenes and a lot of backstabbing. The originator of the idea, John Houbolt is repeatedly mocked, ridiculed, publicly insulted by his colleagues. Yet, in the end, his ideas ARE adopted. What’s more, Werner von Braun doesn’t like the idea either, but he, too comes to realize that it was the right idea AND publicly proclaims it during the Apollo 11 mission. Even after the Apollo missions, including Apollo 13, where the LOR is what actually saves the lives of the astronauts, some of his colleagues still sabotage his reputation and legacy. The worst, I think was the letter written by Robert Gilruth that was so bad that I wonder how he could have slept at night.To know that this nasty backbiting went on is somewhat disconcerting. John Houbolt, though didn’t stop trying to get his proper recognition. He was clearly not a modest man and did not win him any friends. In the end, it is recognized that the LOR was the ONLY way to get to the moon, especially for the late 60s and early 70s. Nothing else could have possibly work. The technology simply had not yet been developed to have allowed it. It is concluded that the moon mission was rushed. Kennedy’s promise to be on the moon and safely home again by the end of the decade left the engineers little time to develop and put into practical use a space ship that could complete the task. Soon, it is hoped, we’ll return to the moon, but with better technology, but it’s over budget and behind schedule. It seems history does repeat itself. Time is needed to develop the more effective, and safer machines for project Artemis (Apollo’s twin sister). NASA wants to use a “Gateway” which is kind of a space station but more like an orbital platform, which will be much smaller than a station and will be a brief stopping point between the Earth and the moon. But it won’t be so useful for the much longer trip to Mars. So, more planning is called for. And, surprise surprise, there is more arguing and sniping of engineers and scientists at each other. However….and this is my own opinion….NASA has had decades to be ready for this. Why aren’t they?
    more
  • Patrick Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    Another fascinating audible original. These audio programs are great.This was a story about the man that fought for Lunar Orbital Rendezvous. A key figure in getting humans to the moon. LOR is the procedure of a separate ship detaching, landing on the moon and then ejecting from the service and reconnecting with the module. Instead of the original idea of one rocket flying from earth, landing on the moon, then ejecting from the moon back to earth. This is the story of John Hobalt. He did not cre Another fascinating audible original. These audio programs are great.This was a story about the man that fought for Lunar Orbital Rendezvous. A key figure in getting humans to the moon. LOR is the procedure of a separate ship detaching, landing on the moon and then ejecting from the service and reconnecting with the module. Instead of the original idea of one rocket flying from earth, landing on the moon, then ejecting from the moon back to earth. This is the story of John Hobalt. He did not create the idea but he did many of the calculations, refined it, proved that it was the only way to land on the moon, and fiercely advocated for it. This was in the face of many people telling him he was wrong. Despite NASA adopting the idea, John never felt that he got the credit he was due. He did receive a lot of attention and credit but at key moments he was denied some glory. I don’t believe that John was a vindictive man, a man seeking acclaim, or that he was overly dismissed. The story gave a rather neutral view of the situation, letting the listener decide for them self. What I really enjoyed was this being a small but crucial story in the larger story of a massive human accomplishment. All great feats are filled with this, be them war, technology achievement, the cure of disease, or another great human endeavor. The individuals, the sacrifices, the BS, the overlooked, the unaccounted, the politics, the intentions, the ultimate outcomes, etc. It’s all part of one larger beautiful web. The end of the program did make me think about the future of manned space flight. Should we go back to the moon, what are our goals, why would we go, and what would we sacrifice on earth for that pursuit?With the fate of our species hanging in balance due to global warming, I am a bit skeptical that we should commit ourselves to manned space exploitation. Instead maybe we should focus on robotic exploration and expansion of technologies such as the Hubble space telescope. I am not sure but I look forward to the exploration and the stories.
    more
  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    Even as someone not into 60s history or space exploration much (tho I *do* love me a good Robert A. Heinlein novel — and I digress), I really really liked this book. It was fascinating and the story of the dogged and brilliant yet sometimes self-defeating Houbolt was wonderful.Unlike other readers, Houbolt’s desire for credit didn’t rankle me at all. Who wouldn’t have a little PTSD of sorts from superiors YELLING THAT YOU ARE LYING when you present simple math facts? He probably felt like he had Even as someone not into 60s history or space exploration much (tho I *do* love me a good Robert A. Heinlein novel — and I digress), I really really liked this book. It was fascinating and the story of the dogged and brilliant yet sometimes self-defeating Houbolt was wonderful.Unlike other readers, Houbolt’s desire for credit didn’t rankle me at all. Who wouldn’t have a little PTSD of sorts from superiors YELLING THAT YOU ARE LYING when you present simple math facts? He probably felt like he had a lot to prove to the world - and himself, especially as a first generation American farm boy who grew up in poverty and achieved all he did with only a junior college degree. Not comparing the two precisely, but other boys-who-made-good like Hamilton suffered the same pathology, and nobody ever gives him any grief over it 🤷🏻‍♀️ So I cut Houbolt a lot of slack. You look up bootstraps in the dictionary and I think you’ll find his picture.One thing that *did* annoy me slightly was at the end, with the NASA engineers nowadays complaining about how much their predecessors focused on the moon landing so technology today isn’t as advanced as it could be if they’d done the earth-orbit-rendezvous. I’m sorry but what now? That strikes me like a middle age kid on a therapist’s couch still complaining after all these years how his parents ruined his life. The Langley guys, including Houbolt, appear to have done all the calculations and written 2 volumes about lunar-orbit-rendezvous on their own time, in less than 2 years. (I’m assuming on their own time bc bosses didn’t approve and they didn’t get fired). So you’re telling me that in *50* years, nobody has sat down to get similarly creative, and they blame the guys from 50 years ago? Please. Don’t make me laugh.Anyway, A+ book, I really enjoyed it!
    more
  • Nicole
    January 1, 1970
    I am of two minds about this book. On the one hand, I learned some stuff I never otherwise would have looked into in regards to the moon landings of the '60's. On the other hand, most of what I learned made me dislike the titular man who "knew the way to the moon" and I really don't think that was the author's intent.My feelings for what I learned about John Houbolt aside*, I also have mixed feelings about the audiobook. There were lots of interviews and quotes from TV or radio broadcasts. And t I am of two minds about this book. On the one hand, I learned some stuff I never otherwise would have looked into in regards to the moon landings of the '60's. On the other hand, most of what I learned made me dislike the titular man who "knew the way to the moon" and I really don't think that was the author's intent.My feelings for what I learned about John Houbolt aside*, I also have mixed feelings about the audiobook. There were lots of interviews and quotes from TV or radio broadcasts. And the volume was not consistent. It also felt like the intent was to make a film documentary which got changed last-minute into an audio one. There was background music and people talking over the interviews, and sometimes it was way too much all at once for an audiobook.Don't get me wrong: I did enjoy learning new stuff. And I loved hearing Neil Armstrong's quote again saying that the Eagle had landed. But this audiobook in general felt very over-produced. Still, it was a free-with-membership Audible Original, so I guess I can't complain about the price.* a brief note: most of why I disliked what I learned of him came from the tone and wording of the snippets of his letters and interviews played on the audiobook. While the book's author could have picked quotes that made Houbolt sound better, it was all in Houbolt's own words.
    more
  • Jack Hansen
    January 1, 1970
    John C. Houbolt, a mid-level engineer at NASA, gets the brass to accept his idea for a Lunar Orbit Rendezvous instead of all other suggestions to put a man on the moon within a distinct timeframe. Werner Von Braun, the ex Nazi rocket designer and ultimate voice on the issue, is in favor of using one rocket ship to land on the moon. The Man Who Knew The Way to the Moon is a story about man's adventure into space, a time when computers are people, not machines. President John F. Kennedy gives NASA John C. Houbolt, a mid-level engineer at NASA, gets the brass to accept his idea for a Lunar Orbit Rendezvous instead of all other suggestions to put a man on the moon within a distinct timeframe. Werner Von Braun, the ex Nazi rocket designer and ultimate voice on the issue, is in favor of using one rocket ship to land on the moon. The Man Who Knew The Way to the Moon is a story about man's adventure into space, a time when computers are people, not machines. President John F. Kennedy gives NASA a deadline for the project to pull ahead of the Russians in the space race. John Houbolt is not taken seriously, at first, but a few top engineers look over his figures and see the possibilities. Houbolt leaves NASA after his ideas succeed and credit for the accomplishments is spread to some of those who, at first, did not believe in him. He finally gets the recognition he deserves from Von Braun as the only one who perseveres under pressure, believing in himself and his figures instead of ignoring what he knows to be right for the sake of agreeing with those who outrank him in status. It is a book like this that brings to light unsung heroes who would otherwise be forgotten in the pages of recorded history. Thank you, Todd Zwillich, for writing this historical enlightenment.
    more
  • Kendra McIntyre
    January 1, 1970
    John C. Houbolt was a junior engineer at NASA in the 1950s and 60s. Without the idea of John Houbolt, NASA would never have made it to the moon on July 20, 1969. Ask anyone about Apollo 11 and they’re not quick to think of Houbolt. Not many people around NASA were on board with Houbolt’s idea, Lunar Orbit Rendezvous. LOR would link two spacecrafts in orbit while the crafts were traveling at 17,000 miles per hour. Houbolt experienced much backlash and ridicule for his idea. He never got the true John C. Houbolt was a junior engineer at NASA in the 1950s and 60s. Without the idea of John Houbolt, NASA would never have made it to the moon on July 20, 1969. Ask anyone about Apollo 11 and they’re not quick to think of Houbolt. Not many people around NASA were on board with Houbolt’s idea, Lunar Orbit Rendezvous. LOR would link two spacecrafts in orbit while the crafts were traveling at 17,000 miles per hour. Houbolt experienced much backlash and ridicule for his idea. He never got the true recognition for his idea that he deserved, and that stayed with him his whole life. I love everything dealing with space, and I can’t get enough! This untold story of the man who quite literally made the Apollo 11 mission a success was so interesting. This man tested his idea. He tested the math, and he knew that the LOR was the way to land on the moon. Houbolt was so sure of his idea that he broke rank and directly addressed the No 3 person at NASA. He was bold and sure, and I am thankful that he didn’t back down. Now the job is to return to the moon, and then to Mars.
    more
  • Ken Burkhalter
    January 1, 1970
    Listened to this as an Audible Original, narrated by the author. That is usually not a good thing but he did a very good job, quite impressive actually. The subject matter (a look at one key individual's contribution to the Apollo effort) limited the scope of this title and thus its length and appeal. It was interesting, but the scale of the Apollo project was so large that this small sliver seems a bit underwhelming, even though it is very well written. The protagonist was an engineer who bucke Listened to this as an Audible Original, narrated by the author. That is usually not a good thing but he did a very good job, quite impressive actually. The subject matter (a look at one key individual's contribution to the Apollo effort) limited the scope of this title and thus its length and appeal. It was interesting, but the scale of the Apollo project was so large that this small sliver seems a bit underwhelming, even though it is very well written. The protagonist was an engineer who bucked the system to lobby for a Lunar Orbit Rendevouz (LOR) process, and thus incurred the disfavor of many. It is a good "small cog makes the big wheel turn correctly" story, but as is often the case in these scenarios the small cog eventually gets ground up. Then comes the bitterness that can diminish one's life. So it is a story of two parts: the fight for what he believed in and a life of rejection and perceived insult that followed. The first is brave, the second seemingly inevitable.
    more
  • Alan
    January 1, 1970
    More Hidden FiguresReview of the Audible Studios audiobook (2019)This is an audiobook to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing of July 20, 1969. The audiobook centres on the story of John Houbolt, a junior NASA engineer who was an early advocate for Lunar Orbit Rendezvous, whereby only a lunar lander module would make the actual moon landing and then rendezvous with an orbiting module for the return to earth. In the early 1960's this method was in opposition to the preva More Hidden FiguresReview of the Audible Studios audiobook (2019)This is an audiobook to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing of July 20, 1969. The audiobook centres on the story of John Houbolt, a junior NASA engineer who was an early advocate for Lunar Orbit Rendezvous, whereby only a lunar lander module would make the actual moon landing and then rendezvous with an orbiting module for the return to earth. In the early 1960's this method was in opposition to the prevalent idea of directly landing a rocket on the moon and then returning to earth in the same vehicle.The Man Who Knew The Way to the Moon was one of the Audible Originals free audiobooks for members in July 2019.
    more
  • Stephen Heiner
    January 1, 1970
    This is the first of the Audible Originals I've had a chance to listen to. It's highly produced and somewhere between an audiobook and a podcast. This particular one was especially relevant given the anniversaries of the Apollo program and the new pledges to go to the moon and beyond by the US government. That said, I am reminded of a quote by Harry Truman: "It is amazing what can be accomplished if one does not care who gets the credit." The man at the heart of this story cared a little too muc This is the first of the Audible Originals I've had a chance to listen to. It's highly produced and somewhere between an audiobook and a podcast. This particular one was especially relevant given the anniversaries of the Apollo program and the new pledges to go to the moon and beyond by the US government. That said, I am reminded of a quote by Harry Truman: "It is amazing what can be accomplished if one does not care who gets the credit." The man at the heart of this story cared a little too much about recognition and should have basked in the knowledge that everyone important knew about his contribution. It's a good lesson for us to this day: don't let your ego get in the way of your achievements.
    more
  • Rocky Sunico
    January 1, 1970
    This was a nice short read as a sort of celebration of the anniversary of the moon landing. But more than talking about the mission, as has been covered extensively by many others, the goal of this book was to highlight the story of John Houbolt, the man who played a large role in pushing for lunar orbit rendezvous as the mission mode to get people to land on the moon safely. Yes, it's a story about the many debates that happened before as to how we were going to get to the moon more than gettin This was a nice short read as a sort of celebration of the anniversary of the moon landing. But more than talking about the mission, as has been covered extensively by many others, the goal of this book was to highlight the story of John Houbolt, the man who played a large role in pushing for lunar orbit rendezvous as the mission mode to get people to land on the moon safely. Yes, it's a story about the many debates that happened before as to how we were going to get to the moon more than getting to the moon itself. And it's the classic scientific tale of someone standing against the tide because of their belief in their idea despite everyone else instinctively dismissing them as being silly or whatnot. It's a hard story but a very important one.
    more
  • Lars Dradrach
    January 1, 1970
    50 years ago a man walked on the moon.I can hardly say I remember the moment as I was 5 at the time, but the whole Space program has always fascinated me and are probably a big part of my science fiction interest.As part of the anniversary Audible issued this tale about one of the lesser known heroes of the Apollo program, it’s a very interesting story that gives some insight into some of the politics which surrounded this immense program spanning nearly 10 years.It also raises the very interest 50 years ago a man walked on the moon.I can hardly say I remember the moment as I was 5 at the time, but the whole Space program has always fascinated me and are probably a big part of my science fiction interest.As part of the anniversary Audible issued this tale about one of the lesser known heroes of the Apollo program, it’s a very interesting story that gives some insight into some of the politics which surrounded this immense program spanning nearly 10 years.It also raises the very interesting point that the much praised Kennedy challenge “putting a man on the moon before the end of this decade”, might have sidetracked future space exploration and being the reason why we never proceeded towards new goals.
    more
  • Diane Adams
    January 1, 1970
    I was delighted to find this in time for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. I am old enough to remember watching it on television, but I really didn't know very much about the background. What I learned is that there is not necessarily a lot of agreement about some of the history of that Apollo journey! Even about such a historically significant event, everyone seems to have their own side, and not everyone who should get credit always does. I was glad to hear mention of the "calculator g I was delighted to find this in time for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. I am old enough to remember watching it on television, but I really didn't know very much about the background. What I learned is that there is not necessarily a lot of agreement about some of the history of that Apollo journey! Even about such a historically significant event, everyone seems to have their own side, and not everyone who should get credit always does. I was glad to hear mention of the "calculator girls"! I don't know whether I'm likely to read more, but I definitely learned a lot from this. Given that the current president seems to be expecting NASA to be ready to revisit the moon ASAP, it will be interesting to see whether that happens, and what route they take.
    more
  • Silas
    January 1, 1970
    This was a timely release from Audible, coming out near the Apollo 11 anniversary. I had personally recently been to the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and there had been a section on the decision to use the lunar orbit rendezvous method on the landing, due to time constraints, because it didn't use as much new equipment, particularly a big, new rocket for launch. What they didn't mention was that it was widely disregarded by NASA decision makers, and that it was advanced s This was a timely release from Audible, coming out near the Apollo 11 anniversary. I had personally recently been to the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and there had been a section on the decision to use the lunar orbit rendezvous method on the landing, due to time constraints, because it didn't use as much new equipment, particularly a big, new rocket for launch. What they didn't mention was that it was widely disregarded by NASA decision makers, and that it was advanced so forcefully by one man, or that it had never been tried before. Those details added some depth to my understanding, even though this audiobook was relatively narrowly focused.
    more
  • Debbie
    January 1, 1970
    This was a wonderful book about John Holbolt, an unsung hero of NASA who was most instrumental in America keeping JFK’s promise in 1960 of landing a man on the moon by the end of the decade. John had the idea of Lunar Orbit Redezvous, which was critical at the time for that successful mission. For years as an employee of Langley, he fought to get NASA to accept his idea. Finally they did accept but did not initially give him the credit. It’s an amazing story and very well told on Audible with in This was a wonderful book about John Holbolt, an unsung hero of NASA who was most instrumental in America keeping JFK’s promise in 1960 of landing a man on the moon by the end of the decade. John had the idea of Lunar Orbit Redezvous, which was critical at the time for that successful mission. For years as an employee of Langley, he fought to get NASA to accept his idea. Finally they did accept but did not initially give him the credit. It’s an amazing story and very well told on Audible with interviews of his wife and other historians. Well done.
    more
  • Crystal Gagne
    January 1, 1970
    Very interesting listen about a small yet influential piece of history about the Apollo program and landing on the moon. I enjoy anything History, books, documentaries, docu dramas, historical fiction, you get the point, so I obviously chose this as one of my Audible original choices this month. I am glad I did. I enjoyed listening to his wife tell his story as well. My only complaint is how many times they all say Lunar rendevouz it's annoying after awhile lol regardless should give this a try Very interesting listen about a small yet influential piece of history about the Apollo program and landing on the moon. I enjoy anything History, books, documentaries, docu dramas, historical fiction, you get the point, so I obviously chose this as one of my Audible original choices this month. I am glad I did. I enjoyed listening to his wife tell his story as well. My only complaint is how many times they all say Lunar rendevouz it's annoying after awhile lol regardless should give this a try if you enjoy history and particularly the space program.
    more
  • Carla
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting Audible short about the NASA engineer who arguably made the moon landing possible within Kennedy’s deadline by persistently bringing the lunar orbit rendezvous method up until it was accepted as the best option. He had to be a complete PITA to get it done, although to be fair it seems that was his personal standard operating procedure. One star off for the uncalled-for insult to “Mr Cub” Ernie Banks, who spent his entire career playing for the Chicago Cubs, not the White Sox as he wa Interesting Audible short about the NASA engineer who arguably made the moon landing possible within Kennedy’s deadline by persistently bringing the lunar orbit rendezvous method up until it was accepted as the best option. He had to be a complete PITA to get it done, although to be fair it seems that was his personal standard operating procedure. One star off for the uncalled-for insult to “Mr Cub” Ernie Banks, who spent his entire career playing for the Chicago Cubs, not the White Sox as he was mistakenly identified with in the piece.
    more
  • Mike Kennedy
    January 1, 1970
    This was a free audiobook for Audible members. It was perfect timing as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of landing on the moon. The story covers John C. Houblolt’s quest to push Lunar Orbit Rendezvous as the mode to reach the moon. His idea was eventually used, but he had to push hard as his theory was ignored at first. Short book, but full of content. Very listenable and timely. They did a good job of telling the story, and not diving deep into technology of Lunar Orbit Rendezvous. If you hav This was a free audiobook for Audible members. It was perfect timing as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of landing on the moon. The story covers John C. Houblolt’s quest to push Lunar Orbit Rendezvous as the mode to reach the moon. His idea was eventually used, but he had to push hard as his theory was ignored at first. Short book, but full of content. Very listenable and timely. They did a good job of telling the story, and not diving deep into technology of Lunar Orbit Rendezvous. If you have Audible it is free for the month of July, and well worth the pick up..
    more
  • Rancy Breece
    January 1, 1970
    Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, "The Man Who Knew the Way to the Moon" tells the story of a gadfly, John Houbolt, who advocated for using a lunar orbiting vehicle as the best, most efficient and most inexpensive way to land a man on the moon and safely return him by Kennedy's deadline of doing so by 1970. A fascinating and well written and documented look at one man's stubborn belief in his views and NASA's politics and intranscience, TMWKTWTPTTM is an absorbing Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, "The Man Who Knew the Way to the Moon" tells the story of a gadfly, John Houbolt, who advocated for using a lunar orbiting vehicle as the best, most efficient and most inexpensive way to land a man on the moon and safely return him by Kennedy's deadline of doing so by 1970. A fascinating and well written and documented look at one man's stubborn belief in his views and NASA's politics and intranscience, TMWKTWTPTTM is an absorbing look at how we achieved that audacious goal and one man's small part in making that happen.
    more
  • Henry
    January 1, 1970
    This is an interesting story of the John Houbolt who passionately pushed for the Lunar Orbit Rendezvous method for putting men on the moon and getting them home safely. It seems there are several different versions of this history and this is one telling of it. Regardless of whether John deserves the credit for his role in the Apollo missions or not, this is an amazing tale of our journey to the moon.
    more
  • Don
    January 1, 1970
    A nice, short interesting look at a bitter guy who felt he didn’t get enough lasting credit for lobbying through the NASA bureaucracy in the early stages of the space program.Bottom line seems to be that if it wasn’t for John Houlbolt we would never have gotten to the moon ... which is pretty debatable. At any rate, the lunar orbit rendezvous approach was the one that enabled us to meet President Kennedy’s timeline.Short as it is, this probably should have been a magazine piece.
    more
Write a review