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The Man Who Knew The Way to the Moon

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  2,562 ratings  ·  257 reviews
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 Ea
Audible Audio, 4 pages
Published July 4th 2019 by Audible Studios
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Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,562 ratings  ·  257 reviews

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Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was reading something about the 50th anniversary of the moon landing recently, and one thing that caught my eye was that apparently over 400,000 people worked on various projects related to making that happen. I’d say that out of all them, the contribution of John Houbolt may be the most controversial.

Houbolt was an engineer at NASA who became an advocate for Lunar Orbit Rendezvous. In the early days of trying to get to the moon most everyone thought that the way to do it was to either build
Jul 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, science
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.
Andrew Bulthaupt
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audible
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 interes
Sep 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Despite being a self-proclaimed Apollo nut, I knew not of John C. Houbolt, the man credited with devising the Lunar Orbit Rendezvous method of landing on the moon. At the time, there was a push at NASA to use one giant rocket (the Nova) to make the trip and land / take off from the moon but John's idea ultimately won over Wernher von Braun and the NASA decision makers.

Houbolt didn't have a lot of people on his side and felt disrespected during the run-up to the Apollo program, but received his
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fascinating behind-the-scenes details about the moon landing 50 years ago.
Lis Carey
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
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 broad
Aug 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
I will always find any stories connected with humanity’s exploration of space inspiring and this is no exception.

I have a feeling a lot of people will judge John Houbolt as being petty in his quest for recognition. I wonder how I would have felt in his place. I know a lot of people deserve credit for their part in one of humanity’s greatest achievements. We think of the Space Program as representing the best of us. The worst of us was also there and I think if John was petty, so were
Colleen Houck
I don't usually read much in the way of non-fiction but this one was very interesting. How scary it must have been for the early astronauts to attempt landing on the moon. It's something I've always taken for granted. Hearing exactly how it happened with all the problems and issues going with it was really interesting.
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
Poorly put together and not well-written. Learned some facts, but the story was too fragmented to make much sense.
Chalay Cragun
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was my favorite audible original I have listened to yet. I felt like it was incredibly well researched and told a familiar story with so many new facts. As someone who is only mildly interested in the space race Zwillich made it so I was much more intrigued. I also very much enjoyed his voice and it didn't bug me near as much as the chili guys.
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it

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 intervi
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My childhood was filled with a fascination about space travel. I still (50 years later) vividly remember watching the moon landing. I challenge folks who don’t believe we landed men on the moon to listen to this audio book about a brave NASA engineer who stood up for what was right.
Lars Dradrach
Jul 24, 2019 rated it liked it
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.
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Loved this. As part of my summer of Apollo it was an interesting and refreshing tale in the cannon of the moon landing. And a great way to ease myself down off the Moon Landing high. Best Audible Original I’ve heard so far. Or at least the one that worked best for me.
Kristi Krumnow
The story behind the creation of, landing, and return of Apollo is fascinating. The calculations for a spacecraft lift off from the moon are intriguing - I had never considered how the ship would get off the moon without the thousands of gasoline needed for takeoff. Nor how the plane would leave the surface of the moon. The recorded voices of the astronauts are touches of history that propel the otherwise snoozer story.
The comical astronauts and Houston's radioed responses - in outer space
Becky Carr
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Douglas Aldrich
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
The beginning and end of the book is very good, but the middle was a little dry and harder for me to get through. That being said, the middle of the book detailed the struggles that he went through on a daily basis for nearly 2 years, so although it made for a little bit of a difficult read, It detailed his challenges very well
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
I loved learning about this piece of history on the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing.

It was amazing to learn about the people behind the scenes at NASA and the politics within.

I like that Houbolt stuck to his guns. He believed in his work and it paid off in the end.

I also liked that the science was easy to understand for those who are not engineers or physicists.
Ashley Baker
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Short. Fun book about how we got to the moon. 🌙
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
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.
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
A somewhat interesting snippet of moon landing history. I was a bit bored during some of the parts due to having done some mission design for NASA myself (ie. I don't need the Rocket Equation explained to me by a layperson). And a bit miffed about speculation on John Houboult's personality, and why he never received the credit he felt he deserved. The bit about him being angry because the $100K award was reduced to $15K was mind-blowing to me. At the NASA *I* worked for a couple decades later, b ...more
Michael Huang
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
A surprisingly good story about the lunar orbit rendezvous (LOR) idea for the Apollo missions: it’s balanced, comprehensive and yet not verbose.

Most people alive today were not yet born when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. But most probably have some knowledge about it, perhaps including details such as there were 3 astronauts on the mission, two of them touched down on the surface while the third was left in orbit. This approach is the so-called LOR. It makes a lot of sense as it takes a lot les
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was really interesting and was tons of information that I didn't know about before. It really adds more dimensions to the moon landing.
Amy Mills
Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
The information presented in this is quite interesting, but superficial enough to make me wonder if I'm really getting the full story. The views presented here as strangely dismissive make me wonder what else was going on behind the scenes. Still, it was fascinating to see that what we think of the "the" way to get to the moon was one of many ideas, and not at all the most prominent until time became a crucial issue.

It was also of interest to me that the original plans for getting to
Taran Clarke
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this Audible Original about John Houbolt and the pivotal role he played in getting a man on the moon before the end of the 60s.

Space isn't a subject that I generally gravitate toward, but I was pulled into the story from the beginning. And as someone with embarrassingly little knowledge on the topic, I learned a lot about the Apollo Program too.

The sound editing was fantastic, with lots in the way of interviews, recordings, and more. I also appreciated the attention to sto
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Catherine Puma
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating listen about the mission to get to the moon. John Houbolt is someone I did not know existed before listening to this book, but his determination and faith is inspiring and I enjoyed learning about a big part of human history.
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