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Falling to Earth: An Apollo 15 Astronaut's Journey to the Moon

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  407 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
As command module pilot for the Apollo 15 mission to the moon in 1971, Al Worden flew on what is widely regarded as the greatest exploration mission that humans have ever attempted. He spent six days orbiting the moon, including three days completely alone, the most isolated human in existence. During the return from the moon to earth he also conducted the first spacewalk ...more
ebook, 312 pages
Published July 26th 2011 by Smithsonian Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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Gary Schroeder
Aug 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Al Worden has some things to get off of his chest. And he's been waiting almost 40 years to talk about them. All that plus rockets, spaceflight, and a real behind-the-scenes account of one Apollo astronaut's experience is what you'll get in the delightful "Falling to Earth."

Worden, though not a household name to most Americans, is well known to Apollo buffs the world over as the command module pilot of Apollo 15. Though not one of the twelve humans to walk upon the moon, he has the even rarer di
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Al gave a talk about his book along with his coauthor. He was very funny and charismatic. When I bought the book from him he told me a few stories from the book. The way he described one event had me and everyone around me laughing. I had high expectations that his book would be just as good as his verbal story telling. It was. He's truly an incredible person both for his accomplishments as an Apollo astronaut and has a regular guy, cracking jokes and having a positive impact on others lives. No ...more
Brian Fiore
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A true "can't-put-down" book, Al Worden and Francis French tell a gripping story of an astronaut's journey; from his humble farm-boy beginnings to his intense military career, his triumphs as an astronaut and his soul-searching fall from grace... and his own eventual personal redemption.

I've read many a wonderful astronaut biography, but Worden and French's tome beats them all... it's almost like Al is telling you his story face-to-face over a few drinks!
James Christians
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll never look at the moon in the same way. Memoir is told deliberately and without compromising detail or information. Al Worden clearly shows the sacrifice, focus, and perseverance required to reach that elite level of success. Definitely required focus and discipline, but if anyone is looking for a real insight into the Apollo program, this book should do it.
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read! So interesting - to read about the experiences of someone who flew to the moon is fascinating. So much work and intelligence is involved - I am in awe. Not only that, but to get to understand what happened to Al Worden and all he had to endure was heartbreaking.
Mar 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A few months ago I met Al Worden in person with my friend during a presentation of a new Morehead Planetarium show. It was fascinating to meet him; he'd been to the Moon, about 238 thousand miles away from Earth, and he was part of a select few astronauts who had the privilege and luck to see the Moon for themselves. He answered all of our questions, even the awkward ones, and I enjoyed being there to listen. I managed to get my brand-new copy of Falling to Earth signed before I left the present ...more
Dan Ford
Aug 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book provided me with an opportunity to somehow sense what it must have been like to travel to the moon and back from the thoughts of one who had actually accomplished that remarkable feat. Al Worden seemed to be overly concerned about the fact that he and his crew carried unauthorized stamp covers to the moon and back in order to profit from that activity. I can understand why he was contrite over that breach of ethics, but it hardly tipped the balance of what he and his fellow astronauts ...more
Karl Schaeffer
Jun 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Picked this book up at the local library. Haven't read too much space history since "Packing for Mars". I hope to flesh out my reading of space history especially stuff by the post Apollo astronauts. It's amazing and disappointing that the moon landing occurred over 40 years ago, those astronauts are in their 70's and 80's and we haven't been back yet. That shouldn't detract from the astronauts in the ISS, but there's so much more out there. Will man set foot on Mars in my lifetime? Don't know. ...more
Jul 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m not a space geek, but I really enjoyed this autobiography. I suddenly became interested in the space environment when I was about to interview for a local space shuttle-related job. One of the International Space Station commanders recommended Falling To Earth in the local newspaper saying it was a good read if you wanted to know what it’s like to be an astronaut. What Al Worden shows us is his true personality and ethics while growing up on a farm, working hard, studying hard and trying to ...more
Al Worden writes a candid book about his life, becoming an astronaut, flying to the moon and back, the scandal that ended his career, and his life afterwards.

I'm a space geek - I'm the first to admit I don't understand most of the science, but being born in '76 and being a kid growing up with the Teacher in Space program - and the horrifying Challenger disaster, which is the Kennedy moment of my generation - I'm fascinated with the space program. I've read probably a dozen books by other astrona
Angela Joyce
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I stayed up late two nights in a row reading this and now I'm tired.

It was well worth it!

I have read Francis French's previous two books, in which he collaborated with Colin Burgess, and found them both excellent reads. This is a different type of collaboration, a different mode of storytelling altogether. It is Al Worden's story, told in Al's voice. There's something about a good first-person narrative like this; you feel you're being spoken to directly and shouldn't interrupt the flow for any
Christine Blachford
My growing obsession with all things space and moon-like meant this book was an easy purchase. The story of Al Worden, one of the three astronauts that made up the Apollo 15 crew, it's not an easy read. There's controversy and bittersweet moments throughout, but that's the life you lead when you're doing something amazing like broadening humanity's horizons.

Worden was the guy left on the ship whilst his colleagues descended to the moon's surface, and it's fascinating to read about being the one
Nov 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Worden's description of the two week mission to the moon is superb. I couldn't put down my kindle. What's also interesting is that he writes not as a journalist but as a professional astronaut. He explains his initial success in concrete terms, as a series of well-timed assignments and career moves. He does not romanticize his life, which makes his description of flight above the lunar landscape seem more vivid and genuine.

Unfortunately, he also tries very hard to clarify his involvement in a b
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Al Worden deserves nothing but happiness. What an enlightened man. Every time I watch the moon rise, I think of his ornery laugh and it just cracks me up.
Sep 21, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, between 2 & 3 stars. Not a particularly gifted writer or storyteller, Worden's main reason for writing the book was to set the record straight. To share his version of the issue regarding "flown to the Moon" stamp sheets by Apollo 15 crew that led to congressional hearings shortly after the crew's triumphant return to Earth. Beyond his personal background, much of the NASA backdrop he provides from mid 60 until he left the agency is told better by authors. That he perseveres at an Agen ...more
I found this insider account of being a NASA astronaut interesting. Particularly, the author's journey from air force pilot to astronaut and his vivid account of his mission on Apollo 15 were compelling to read. The image of astronauts floating around weightless and pantless, with poo bags stuck to their butts might stay with me for a few days. Al Worden did come off as a bit smarmy. He seemed to me like that kind of swinger 70's guy who picked up the ladies with his corvette and brought them h ...more
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
outstanding book. hard to put down
James Wattengel
I am aaeronautical engineer an worked in the industry during time of the Apolo missions. Although I was not involved with Apollo, I followed it closly. I was one or two steps removed from some of the people in this account.

Beyond the Warden's clarfication of his scandal it is n imortant book which fills out part of the human side of this endevor.

In addition it shows what the US was once capable of doing.

Finally, one must be aware that pilots, astronaughts, top level engineers and scientists are
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Apollo 15 was very science-based, looking at geology, topography, and more. It was enlightening and fascinating to read about the training and mission goals of the Apollo program. It's also a wonderful description of being in space. Worden conveys the psychological impact of being at the moon without getting too schmaltzy or cheesy. His story of getting un trouble for postal covers in space is bureaucratic drivel that Worden clearly resents, but it does not drag down the narrative or his life. W ...more
May 01, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty workmanlike autobiography of Apollo 15 astronaut Al Worden. Interesting but not overwhelmingly so. Two parts did stand out though. First, his description of the moon mission he participated in was very well written and did an effective job of putting the reader in that place and time. And second, his recounting of the postal cover scandal was interesting and provided a perspective that did not get much play at the time. If you are a space buff like me you will enjoy this...if not it is a ...more
Michael O'Neal
Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good inside look into an astronaut's journey to become an astronaut and make it to the Moon. I enjoyed his perspective as the Commander of the Command Module. His isolation while orbiting the Moon during his colleagues' journeys on the lunar surface was insightful and mostly a neglected side of the story. And it was obviously very formative for him personally. Perhaps the explanation of an ethics issue concerning some envelopes taken on the Apollo 15 mission was a little overdone, but obviously ...more
Ben Vogel
Nov 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the first half of this book I was enjoying the story, but tiring of the author's constant references to how his marriage was inevitably falling apart. My annoyance with that diminished as the narrative ramped up and I found myself enjoying this tremendously through to the end. Falling to Earth has some unique angles and insights even for those of us who have read more than a few books on the space program. I recommend it highly with that one caveat.
Sep 25, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
An interesting memoir from an early astronaut. I was in my twenties before I knew that more than one (well, two) people had gone to the moon. Thanks to Alex I had already learned a little about the Apollo program. The chapters about orbiting the moon were fabulous and makes this a story worth picking up.
Roberto Rigolin Ferreira Lopes
This is thrilling! What a fantastic adventure and Al narrates everything from the beginning. He even got a degree in geology to be able to explore the moon. After being an elite jet pilot and aeronautical engineer with tons of experience. The book is almost good as high quality science fiction, but reality strikes. Human bureaucracy destroys the end of his history.
Matt Gann
Sep 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was a great adventure read! The author does towards the end seem to be venting a bit! But the lead up to and blasting off to orbit the moon is awesome. One of the most scary adventures ever, no "real" computers, being 20,000 miles from earth and being completely alone with no communication. WOW! Best of all this man actually had the nerve to do it, great story.
Jan 21, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a space nut i have read damn near everything there is about the early space program through Apollo. i did not remember this story about the discgaced astronaut's. Not a great writer, but he hadthe right stuff, second wave of astronauts. reccomended for those who truly want to know the most on the subject, but there are several better books.
David Czuba
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Keep a tissue box nearby, because Al Worden takes you from low to high to low. He makes it seem that being an astronaut could have been anyone's choice. He takes you to the moon with him. You suffer indignities with him. This is a humble autobiography. If you love all things scientific and space, Al gives you the other side, too. This is a really great book.
May 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book about Apollo 15 space flight and Al Worden adventure getting to the moon and what happen afterwards. Great way to learn about a time period in the present past. Learned a lot about what the astronaut went through to get into the program and stay there and how they feel about it.
Matthew Sherman
I think this is going to be a great book because I like to learn about space. It is entertaining for me to read about different missions going into space and telling what the astronauts saw. I am excited to read about this book.
Keir Thomas
Jun 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting account of Al's life. I'm glad that the stamp nonsense is fading away while the achievements of Apollo 15 continue to burn bright. Nothing should take away from the spectacular mission that crew trained for, and successfully undertook. A great read for Apollo era space buffs!
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