Book Review: The Seventh Landing — Going Back to the Moon, This Time to Stay

Can you remember back to your first love? The one that left you in tears, wondering what ever caused such a disaster. Well, that feeling might come back to you if you read Michael Carroll’s “The Seventh Landing.” For you see, this book anticipates the imminent Constellation program of 2009 that was going to return the United States to the Moon and then on to Mars. We know what happened instead and we know a few tears must have been shed, perhaps even yours.

Yes, this book is all about the Constellation program and its Ares I and ARES V launch vehicles. But more than that, and what makes it still applicable today, is that the book really gets into a lunar landing program as the next step in humankind’s expansion off of Earth — and how it’s the logical precursor to the next step: a settlement on Mars.

This logical progression jumps right out via the table of contents. First there’s an excellent chapter that recovers what’s already transpired; the good and bad of both the Apollo program and the early Soviet space program. The writing style and copious quantities of vintage photographs bring a sense of immediacy and presence.

The second chapter takes you to the promised land. This land is full of large expendable launch vehicles; human rated and ready to transport material and supplies. Here’s where the value of this book continues on to today. That is, the book provides a systems analysis point of view on, for instance, why various engines would be better or how to use ping pong balls to design a lunar capsule. With this, the reader can start to get a grasp on the complexity of this undertaking. Interesting yes, but what about that purpose again? Oh yes, it was to put humans on the Moon. Well that’s the book’s next chapter.

Bring on the Shackleton crater, the nights of -233C and the dust. Lots and lots of dust. As it states, sure there may be some engineering challenges but hey, we’ve been to the Moon already and we’ve been continuing to research it nearly non-stop so we should certainly be able to go back there to live; even if it won’t be easy.

The remainder of the book is somewhat like a lover after their first kiss; all hopes and aspirations. The chapters progress on to the reasons for returning to the Moon or what to do once there. Then, of course, there’s that final question that remains and which the book outlines but doesn’t answer. That is, “Is the Moon really the next step for humanity or should we go Mars direct?” Well, since 2009, there’s been lots of discussion on this topic though as we’ve seen, there’s been very little substance. So in a sense, this book is still a wonderful jumping off point for someone who wants to understand where things lie with regard to the expansion of humans into space even if it won’t be via the launch vehicles of the Constellation program.

Yes, this book has lots of technical detail on elements needed for a Moon program. What also becomes apparent on reading the book is that the author is also an award winning artist of space themes. Thus, the reader receives a reward simply by viewing the book’s images. For instance, it’s got a wonderful image of Werner Von Braun’s plan of space “boats” winging down through the Martian atmosphere. Or, there’s a rendered image of an Altair lander doing a final approach to an established base on the rim of Shackleton. Many other renderings take the reader out from the germane and into a visual playground of possibilities. Certainly, if the Constellation program had been funded, then there’s a good chance that some of these images might be close to reality. But, we will just have to be content with the images for now.

Sometimes being content is the best we can do. For example, perhaps you`ve keep secreted away an old photograph of that first love. It’s so far away that no one will ever know but you. And maybe on a dark lonely night you pull out that photograph and imagine what might have been. Or maybe on that dark night you pull out a copy of Michael Carroll’s “The Seventh Landing” and dream about what might have been. And, of course, you will remember that tomorrow is a new day when anything might come true, even dreams.

Find out more about the book at Springer’s website, and learn more about the author, Michael Carroll, at his website.

Win a DVD Set of “Journey of Universe: Conversations”

The highly acclaimed and mind-expanding documentary, ‘Journey of the Universe’, which aired on PBS in 2011, looked at modern science and ancient wisdom to ask the eternal question, why are we on this planet? Hosted by philosopher Brian Thomas Swimme, the film was a journey through time, looking at the evolution of our understandings of science and the world around us, and how we have looked out to try and determine our connection to the cosmos.

Now, the same producers have a new series called ‘Journey of the Universe: Conversations,’ which presents interviews hosted by Mary Evelyn Tucker, an historian of religions, talking with some of the greatest minds of our time — scientists, historians and environmentalists — to explore the unfolding story of Earth, the Universe, and how we should responding to global and environmental issues of the day.

Universe Today has one copy of ‘Journey of the Universe’ and two DVD sets of Journey of the Universe: Conversations’ to give away to our readers. The DVD sets are a 10 hour, 20-part, 4-disc set, just released today. The set is about $80 USD on Amazon.

In order to be entered into the giveaway drawing, just put your email address into the box at the bottom of this post (where it says “Enter the Giveaway”) before Monday June 10, 2013. We’ll send you a confirmation email, so you’ll need to click that to be entered into the drawing.

“Conversations” follows in the traditions of discussions by Thomas Berry and Joseph Campbell, and deliberates history and future of the Universe, delving into discussions of science, technology, literature, religion and philosophy.

Why Are There So Many Celestron Reviews?

Collimation

I’ve had a couple of readers write me, wondering what was going on with all the Celestron telescope reviews. Are we sponsored by Celestron, or something? Nope. Let me just make this clear. We don’t get any money from any of the telescope manufacturers, or any kind of sponsorship at all. If and when we do, I’ll let you know.

So far, Celestron, Vixen and Sky Watcher are the only telescope manufacturers willing to send out a telescope for us to review, and then willing to pay for the return shipping to take it back off our hands again. If I have to pay to receive a telescope, or ship it back, we can’t afford to review it on Universe Today.

I know that really sets the bar pretty low. Universe Today received almost 2 million visitors last month, with 50,000 people subscribed to the RSS feed and daily email newsletter. Many of them are very interested in owning a telescope and would love to read about all the telescopes on the market. But I’m honestly exhausted trying to justify this to the manufacturers.

But so we’re clear, we’re not paid to give Celestron good reviews. If Tammy comes across as kind of enthusiastic in her reviews, well… that’s Tammy; she’s an enthusiastic force of nature. The manufacturers pay to ship the telescopes to and from our reviewers (well, Tammy), and then I pay Tammy for her reviews. If the telescope companies advertise on Universe Today, through Google, or through direct advertising, it doesn’t influence what Tammy has to say about them.

And if you’re a telescope manufacturer who wants to join this elite club of companies getting reviews on Universe Today, you just need to pay for the shipping. And if you want to advertise on Universe Today, just drop me an email.

P.S. I picked up a Celestron First Scope for the, uh, kids, and I really like it. Thanks to Tammy for the review, and thanks to the IYA for helping get it built.