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Falling to Earth: An Apollo 15 Astronaut's Journey (Inglese) Copertina rigida – 3 gen 2011

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“The command module pilot (CMP), the second in command of an Apollo spacecraft, was the least understood and least appreciated crew member by the media and the general public.  In Falling to Earth, Al Worden, CMP of Apollo 15, clearly and candidly recounts the wonder, the challenge, the triumph, and the pitfalls of flying to the moon.”

—Neil Armstrong, Gemini 8 and Apollo 11 astronaut

“Ever wonder what it would be like to spend several days orbiting the moon—alone?  Al Worden’s expressive description of his Apollo 15 mission takes you there, and then on the 250,000-mile return, falling to Earth.  This is not just another space mission book.  In his intense, tell-it-as-he-sees-it style, Worden details what led to that wondrous experience and all that followed.”

--John Glenn, first American to orbit the Earth

"The space program first rewarded, and then punished, Al Worden—and he is better for it, as this exceptional book reveals.  It’s the full story, told with clarity, insight, and humor, altogether a wonderful read.”

—Michael Collins, Gemini 10 and Apollo 11 astronaut, author of Carrying the Fire

"A rip-roaring adventure—a wry and fascinating chronicle of a time when we actually knew how to fly people to the moon."

—Tom Jones, space shuttle astronaut, author of Sky Walking

 “Al Worden does a fine job telling his interesting life story, his important role as the command module pilot for the highly successful Apollo 15 flight—and his abrupt firing as a NASA astronaut. The ins and outs of this latter story and his personal fall to Earth make for especially fascinating reading.”

—William Anders, Major General USAF (ret), Apollo 8 astronaut

“The talented men who made the pioneering flights to the moon were test pilots and scientists, team players and egomaniacs, goodie two-shoes and skirt-chasers, all driven by a shared goal—to go higher, faster, further than anyone in history. Al Worden was one of the best of this elite group: the first rookie astronaut to be entrusted with the tricky job of flying an Apollo command module, and ultimately a member of Apollo 15, the most scientifically productive lunar mission. His story, written with noted space historian Francis French, is a worthy companion to Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff.

--Michael Cassutt, co-author of Deke! and We Have Capture

"Very few of us flew to the moon, and the stories we brought back with us are special, treasured, and unique. Al is both a pilot and a poet, and his honest portrayal of our exhilarating adventures will move and excite a whole new generation."
Buzz Aldrin, Gemini 12 and Apollo 11 astronaut, author of Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon


With the assistance of space historian French (co-author: In the Shadow of the Moon: A Challenging Journey to Tranquility, 1965-1969, 2007, etc.), astronaut Worden, commander of the Apollo 15 module, writes that “it is time to…set the record straight” about the scandal that ended his career in space flight.

The author flew under Colonel Dave Scott with Jim Irwin on the successful 1971 NASA trip to the Moon. When they returned to Earth, the crew found themselves in the midst of a scandal, accused of being paid to take souvenir items into space. Although they denied this, they were grounded from then on. By the summer of 1972, the U.S. Senate was involved, and Congresswoman Leonor Sullivan wanted to know “what's going on at NASA.” They were never charged with violating law or NASA regulations, but it took years for the three flyers to get their good names back. Worden, now in his 70s, has a record that speaks for itself. He is one of “only 24 humans” who have left Earth’s orbit and gone to the Moon. The author describes how astronauts need courage and skill to fly on the Apollo missions and how they had to be prepared to deal with the unexpected: “We focused on the events that could kill us and prepared for them.” Apollo 15, with its on-board instruments and cameras, brought back a treasure trove of data, but they faced many potentially dangerous situations including fragments of broken glass in the weightless environment of the landing module. Worden now helps the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation fund the training of future science and technology students. 

On his journey, the author “discovered far more” about the Earth, not only from space, but also in the time and effort spent vindicating himself from what appears to have been an unfair scapegoating.


Nine months after Worden’s (Hello Earth: Greetings from Endeavour) return to Earth, NASA management moved him permanently out of the astronaut office for allegedly profiteering from spaceflight. In this autobiography, he addresses the accusations and how he cleared his name. His focus, however, is on the first half of his life, from childhood to his departure from the Houston space center; he dispatches the last 40 years in two short chapters. The book’s highlight is a detailed and fascinating account of training for and successfully completing the first longer-stay lunar mission. Although Worden clearly regrets sacrificing his marriage for his career, kicks himself for getting involved in questionable financial deals, and obviously has mixed feelings about his former mission commander, he doesn’t dwell on the details or on his emotions. In a low-key conclusion, the author claims he is reconciled with most of his astronaut peers and on better-than-ever terms with NASA. VERDICT A good, occasionally blunt read and a worthy newcomer to the ever-popular genre of astronaut memoirs. Anyone interested in the space program will enjoy Worden’s reminiscences.—Nancy R. ­Curtis, Univ. of Maine, Orono


Apollo 15 astronaut Worden belongs to one of the most exclusive clubs in the world: men who made it to the moon. His recollections of events leading up to a three-day solo lunar orbit as well as the heady days of the Apollo program would be fascinating enough, but Worden is also the astronaut whom NASA shrouded in a cloud of suspicion. Few people have known why until now, when this caustic, no-holds-barred, former test pilot tells all. What readers will discover is less tabloid tawdriness than controversy surrounding the rare and valuable stamps, or postal covers, that have flown in space. With NASA now officially flying covers onboard shuttle missions, what happened to the Apollo 15 crew seems almost funny. But it had a real impact on careers and friendships, and Worden sheds invaluable light on how much risk we ask our heroes to endure in exchange for little compensation. Worden is eloquent, witty, and brutally honest, still in awe of the company he kept and the history he belongs to. A solid addition to space-literature collections. — Colleen Mondor


AL WORDEN served as a support crew member for Apollo 9, backup command module pilot for Apollo 12, and command module pilot for Apollo 15's mission July 26 - August 7, 1971. After retirement from active duty in 1975, Worden spent years in private industry before becoming the Chair of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.  He lives in Vero Beach, Florida. FRANCIS FRENCH is director of education for the San Diego Air & Space Museum and co-author of the award-winning books Into that Silent Sea and In the Shadow of the Moon.

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37 di 37 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle A casual conversation (with an Apollo astronaut) 9 agosto 2011
Di Gary Schroeder - Pubblicato su
Formato: Formato Kindle Acquisto verificato
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 distinction of being one of only seven human to orbit the moon solo.

A flood of Apollo books started appearing in the late 1980s, with a wide range of quality and authenticity. On the low end of the scale we have the flimsy, ghost-written "Moonshot" ostensibly related by Alan Shepard to the outstanding "Carrying the Fire" by Michael Collins, long regarded as the pinnacle of the genre. I'm happy to report that "Falling to Earth" is on the high end of this scale.

Worden's account succeeds for one simple reason: his story rings true. You get the feeling that this is a man who's not a trained author, but someone who has poured his heart into writing a direct, vivid and honest account of his life's achievements. He comes across as humble and friendly. I had the feeling that I was having a friendly chat with him in my living room. No pretense, no "right stuff" machismo, just a lot of "this is what happened and I'm proud to say that I was there to be part of it."

Other astronaut bio's have removed the sheen of perfection from the 1960s NASA PR machine, so there's no fresh ground broken there, but...Worden does make some very direct statements about his past colleagues that may surprise some. As you might expect from other tellings, neither Alan Shepard or Chris Kraft come off as likeable guys. Shepard's too full of himself and Kraft's just a cranky bastard. There's also no love lost for Dave Scott. Worden makes clear that he has enormous respect for him as a pilot and astronaut, but they're not buddies by any stretch.

Besides a terrific blow-by-blow account of the Apollo 15 mission, a main theme of this book is the postal cover controversy which engulfed the crew following their return to Earth. This controversy is fairly well known, but it's never been covered in such detail by any of the crew. I had no idea how nasty the whole thing became. Far beyond being a simple PR embarrassment, it summarily ended all of their careers as astronauts. They went from being national heroes to disgraced pariahs with head-snapping speed...all over an error in ethical judgement that in retrospect looks laughably trivial. Most surprisingly, Dave Scott, often portrayed as the most Boy Scout-ish of the astronauts doesn't come out looking so good. By Worden's account, Scott abdicated his leadership role by not coming forward as the initiator of the postal cover deal. If completely accurate, this makes Scott look rather bad indeed. Don't get the wrong idea; this is not a tell-all book used to settle scores, but it does a lot to explain some areas of political intrigue that have been inadequately explored until now.

"Falling to Earth" is successful on multiple fronts. It will be just as interesting to the casual reader as it is to those well versed in Apollo history. There's something for everybody. Al Worden has penned a fine edition to the Apollo canon.
15 di 15 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle An Excellent Addition to the Literature of Spaceflight History 26 agosto 2011
Di Terry Sunday - Pubblicato su
Formato: Copertina rigida Acquisto verificato
"Falling to Earth: An Apollo 15 Astronaut's Journey to the Moon," by Al Worden and Francis French, is a very good astronaut biography. In a field cluttered with memoirs by other ex-space-travelers, some of them good and some terrible, this book stands out because of its substance, style and subject matter.

As the Command Module Pilot on the Apollo 15 lunar mission, Worden did not land on the moon with his crewmates Dave Scott and Jim Irwin. Rather, he remained in orbit around the moon solo. While Scott and Irwin explored the lunar surface around Hadley Rille, Worden conducted a program of scientific experiments exceeding that of any previous Apollo flight, and stacking up favorably with the results of the final two missions that followed. Worden was the first astronaut to perform an Extra-Vehicular Activity ("EVA") in cislunar space when he went outside of the Command Module to retrieve film packages from two mapping cameras.

But, as spectacular as the Apollo 15 mission was, it was overshadowed by the "postal covers" fiasco that embarrassed NASA, led to a Congressional investigation and cost the three astronauts their careers. Parts of the story of this sad NASA chapter have been available for years to those willing to search for it in other books and on the Internet, but not, to my knowledge, as told by the hapless participants themselves. Jim Irwin has written two books that, according to reviews (I have not read them) are almost exclusively religious in nature, which destroys ANY interest I might have in them. Dave Scott and Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov penned the joint memoir "Two Sides of the Moon: Our Story of the Cold War Space Race," but it's been many years since I read it and I don't recall how--or if--it dealt very much with the deluxe stamp flap. "Falling to Earth" fills in the details of the story. It not only tells WHAT happened but, perhaps more importantly, WHY, and, as such, it covers a lot of new ground.

There was a lot more to Apollo 15 than the stamp episode, of course, and Worden describes his training, the flight itself and his activities in lunar orbit in a straightforward, conversational, fast-paced, almost-lyrical style that should captivate any reader. The story of his life before he joined NASA is thankfully brief (I tend to glaze over with too many childhood and teenager tales), but contains many fascinating anecdotes. Although "Falling to Earth" is by no means a "technical" book, its technical aspects are spot on. Worden and French have the ability to simplify obscure technical concepts to educate the general reader without making experts roll their eyes at them.

I immensely enjoyed this long-overdue story of Apollo 15 and the events surrounding it, especially since it offers the relatively rare and hence very valuable perspective of a man who stayed behind in lunar orbit while his crewmates landed. "Falling to Earth" deserves a place on the bookshelf of every space enthusiast.
1 di 1 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle A joy to read 22 settembre 2016
Di Angela Joyce - Pubblicato su
Formato: Copertina flessibile Acquisto verificato
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 trivial reason. So I read this one rapidly.

Several things happened during the reading: I laughed out loud many times, groaned and shook my head at the unfairness of the incident which ended his space flights, immediately searched YouTube for clips of his appearance on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (that was such a lovely thing), and shrieked only once (upon learning how bathroom visits are handled in space).

I am so glad Al Worden chose to tell his story. I am delighted it was told in such a compelling fashion. I plan to recommend this book to several people, but they can't borrow my copy-- I won't risk not getting it back!
8 di 8 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle The Accidental Astronaut 13 agosto 2012
Di R. F. Mojica - Pubblicato su
Formato: Copertina flessibile Acquisto verificato
One of the more interesting, and different of the astronaut memoirs.

On a personal note, I remember Al Worden being one of my favorites of the astronauts, though I didn't know anything personal about him at the time, and knew little more since then until reading this book. It sounds silly, having a "favorite astronaut" like he was a baseball player or popular singer, but that's the way you think when you're a kid. My reason for liking Al Worden was even sillier. I thought he was a real life space man who looked like a TV spaceman, noticing (I thought) a strong resemblance between him and Uncle Martin, the Martian on the TV show "My Favorite Martian". I admit it was silly, but I was only 9 years old..

What makes Worden and these memoirs different is that you can almost call him an "accidental astronaut". Unlike most of the astronauts, who tell about childhood obsessions with airplanes and flying, Worden was a farmboy to whom an interest in flying came late. He atteneded and graduated from West Point, not because of a desire for a career in the military, but because it was a way of getting a free education at a prestigious university, and money was short in his family. In this way, his story resembles that of US Grant, who reluctantly attended West Point for similar reasons, and who also went on to great things after a grudging beginning.

What is interesting about Worden's story and those of the other astronauts, is how, whatever endeavor he entered, from West Point to the Air Force to the astronaut program, though he doesn't seem to have pushed himself forward, to have tried to draw attention to himself, his talents and abilities immediately brought him to the front of his group, and he found himself in important positions of leadership. For example, of his astronaut group, though at first he wasn't the obvious standout, he was the first to be placed in a crew assignment.

One of the things that will most interest readers of this book is his version of the whole so-called postage-covers scandals. As I remember the scandal, it was a big story maybe for two days and then disappeared, and the public was neither outraged or much interested. It was a big stink in NASA, and congress had a few hearings, but the average man in the street didn't think it was anything so terrible, and even thought the astronauts, in trying to get some financial security for their families, did nothing wrong.

An interesting revelation was that, before Worden's Apollo 15 flight, the crew of the previous mission, Apollo 14, also raised eyebrows with some dealings similar to the postage covers mess. It never hit the newspapers, and NASA handled it internally, looking into it and issuing a set of directives covering such dealings, but that these directives had never been communicated to the astronauts themselves! Had they done so, the Apollo 15 scandal would never have occured. To me this takes the whole blame for the scandal from the astronauts and places it on NASA management. That NASA messed up to begin the scandal and then messed up further in creating a furor over such a trivial matter shows how they were losing their way after reaching their focused goal of landing on the moon. I don't think they've found their way since.

One lesson in this, for famous people, is how a trivial matter that can become a newspaper headline for a single day, one of little interest even to the public, and soon to be forgotten, can wreck a career and throw a carefully lived life into a long-term turmoil. Worden's career in the astronaut corps was ended and his NASA career interrupted (he recovered nicely after a while) by something that, a week after it hit the news, was completely forgotten by the public itself, even if those in NASA clung to it.

As other reviewers mentioned, Apollo 15 mission commander Dave Scott does not come off well in Worden's telling of the story. To return to the TV references above, he seems to have been the Eddie Haskell of the astronaut corps, and he managed to keep his skirts clean while others around him got dirtied. Scott did have the look of a wise guy in his NASA photographs, and watching the videos of his EVA's, he seems a bit hammy and bossy. Bossiness was his style of leadership, as contrasted to, say, the quiet but strong authority of a Tom Stafford, the worried insistence of a Frank Borman or the almost mute, hands-off approach of a Neil Armstrong. But let's not make Scott out as some kind of villain. In my opinion neither he or the crew did anything wrong in the stamp matter, NASA's handling of the thing was a ridiculous, panicked over-reaction combined with selective and arbitrary justice, congress's morale outrage was base hypocrisy at its worst, their criticism of and posturing and grandstanding on the astronauts allegedly attempting to "capitalize" on their government positions (as if this wasn't standard operating procedure for congress) both laughable and disgusting. Perhaps Scott's biggest mistake was, as commander, not taking on himself, and absolving his crewmates of, all blame for the mess. The commanding officer (in the military) or boss (in civilian life) gets a lot of considerations and privileges and prerogatives with his office, so it is equally his duty to take the brunt of consequences when bad things happen, and in this one case, it seems, Scott failed. But this isn't a case of outrageous villainy.

Worden gives some interesting insights into, of all people, President Nixon. Early in the book, he complains about having to stop in the middle of his space chores to listen to a windy and pretentious pronouncement from the president on the esoteric and philosophical meanings of the Apollo 15 mission and of space flight while he was, at the same time, cutting NASA's budget. You get the idea he disliked the president. Yet later on, when he visits the White House with his two daughters, he goes into detail how Nixon went out of his way to treat him and his kids with kindness and attention, and he seems to have liked Nixon (and Spiro Agnew) personally from his dealings with them, and felt strong identification with both because they were, as he was, dragged down by scandals that could have been trivial if handled differently, and properly.

One last thing. Worden goes into his historic deep space spacewalk in depth, and the main thing I took from it is the idea of some more of NASA's shortsightedness. This spacewalk was one of the most spectacular, could have been the most visually spectacular, events in the Apollo program, but passed into obscurity because it was barely photographed. Worden himself points out that there was no rush about the event, as they were on their way back to Earth with not too much to do on the way; time could have been taken to give him a camera, but this was not done, and many great pitcures were missed. Too bad.

But this book should not be missed by the space enthusiast. It is well written, tells a story that is quite different from other astronaut memoirs and gives a perspective on how upper management will protect itself, its favored employees (for example, Alan Shepherd) while sacrificing others like Worden and Apollo 15 crewmate Jim Irwin in its attempts to come clean by airing its dirty laundry.
12 di 12 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle Apollo astronaut waits 40 years to clear the air 16 settembre 2011
Di Tracy T. Kornfeld - Pubblicato su
Formato: Copertina rigida Acquisto verificato
In all fairness, I am Al Worden's webmaster. It doesn't seem like over five years have passed since I was sitting in his kitchen when he mentioned to his two guests that he wanted to write his autobiography. Al had a lot on his mind that day - and, in all honesty - I knew most of the underlying story. I'm glad he teamed up with Francis French as co-author.

Five years later, the book is published. It was not what I had expected. After working with this delightful man for five years, I couldn't believe how much I DIDN'T know about him - and it was fun to read about his past. However, he kept the names of the "cover scandal" such a closely guarded secret, that I can honestly say that I was shocked to read all but one name - and it never ceases to amaze me how one of these men killed so many promising careers.

Al Worden is a true gentleman. After the way NASA treated him, he had every right to walk away for good. However, 40 years later, he spends all of his spare time raising funds for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation [originally founded by the original Mercury 7 astronauts] and helped turn it into a multi-million dollar scholarship entity for deserving students who want to go into the field of aerospace engineering. I can count on three fingers the number of people who would do that under the circumstances.

His co-author, Francis French, once again did an admirable job of putting Al's memories into print. I know how long the process took and how hard it was to choose between stories and not make it a typical astronaut autobiography. I'm proud to have both of them as my friends.

A great book - A great story - A great man. Read and enjoy his book [and visit his web site, you won't be disappointed]. And thank you for the mention in the back, Al. It's greatly appreciated.