In April 1970, during the glory days of the Apollo space program, NASA sent Navy Captain Jim Lovell and two other astronauts on America's fifth mission to the moon. Only fifty-five hours into the flight of Apollo 13, disaster struck: a mysterious explosion rocked the ship, and soon its oxygen and power began draining away. Commander Lovell and his crew watched in alarm as the cockpit grew darker, the air grew thinner, and the instruments winked out one by one. The full story of the moon shot that almost ended in catastrophe has never been told, but now Lovell and coauthor Jeffrey Kluger bring it to vivd life. What begins as a smooth flight is transformed into a hair-raising voyage from the moment Lovell calls out, "Houston, we've got a problem." Minutes after the explosion, the astronauts are forced to abandon the main ship for the lunar module, a tiny craft designed to keep two men alive for just two days. But there are three men aboard, and they are four days from home. As the hours tick away, the narrative shifts from the crippled spacecraft to Mission Control, from engineers searching desperately for solutions to Lovell's wife and children praying for his safe return. The entire nation watches as one crisis after another is met and overcome. By the time the ship splashes down in the Pacific, we understand why the heroic effort to rescue Lovell and his crew is considered by many to be NASA's finest hour. This riveting book puts the reader right in the spacecraft during one of the worst disasters in the history of space exploration. Written with all the color and drama of the best fiction, Lost Moon is the true story of a thrilling adventure and an astonishing triumph over nearly impossible odds. It was a major Oscar(R)-nominated motion picture directed by Ron Howard and starred Tom Hanks and Kevin Bacon.
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JEFFREY KLUGER has written for various publications,
including Discover, the New York Times Magazine, GQ, and the Wall Street
Journal. He is also the author of Journey Beyond Selene.
Jim Lovell joined NASA in 1962 and flew a total of four missions before retiring in 1973. After Apollo 8, America's first mission to the moon, he and his two crew members were named TIME's Men of the Year. He continues to lecture across the country, speaking about space exploration.
Even though Lovell was the commanding officer of Apollo 13 and therefore at the very heart of these galvanizing events, he and coauthor Kluger of Discover magazine felt that the "omniscient sweep" of a third-person voice was essential to the telling of this unparalleled story. And they were right. The facts are these: On April 11, 1970, Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise began their journey to the moon. Two days later, when Apollo 13 was 200,000 miles from home and five sixths of the way to its inhospitable destination, an oxygen tank exploded and the crew was placed in unprecedented danger. So many things could have killed the crew, from lack of oxygen and water to the complete breakdown of communication and navigation systems. If any one of those catastrophes had occurred, the three men would have been condemned to an eternity of orbiting the earth and her pale sister entombed in the craft that failed them. Instead, ingenuity and sheer luck prevailed. Lovell and Kluger document every white-knuckle phase of this near disaster, balancing fascinating technological detail with more, pardon the pun, down-to-earth concerns, such as how Marilyn Lovell kept her composure during the seemingly endless ordeal. It's no wonder that director Ron Howard and Oscar-winner Tom Hanks have made a movie based on this book: you'd be hard-pressed to find a more compelling and unique drama. Donna Seaman
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