Apollo Moon Missions

The Unsung Heroes

by Billy Watkins


A celebration of the ordinary men and women, from all walks of life, whose ingenuity, passion, and sacrifice helped the space program meet President Kennedy's challenge to land a man on the moon and return him safely to earth.

Print Flyer
Cover image for Apollo Moon Missions

December 2005


Pages 224
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Science/General
  • Hardcover



    Add to Cart
  • eBook


    Call Your Preferred eBook Vendor for Pricing

  • International Pricing

    Hardcover: £36.00/39,00€/A$59.00

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy issued a challenge: the United States would land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth before the end of the decade. It seemed like an impossible task and one that the Russians—who had launched the first satellite and put the first man into Earth orbit—would surely perform before us. The ingenuity, passion, and sacrifice of thousands of ordinary men and women, from all walks of life, enabled the space program to meet this extraordinary goal. In all, six crews would land on the moon before Congress withdrew financial backing for the program. This is the story of the men and women who worked behind the scenes, without fanfare or recognition, to make these missions a success. Thirty years later, they still speak of Apollo with pride, sometimes even awe.

After Apollo moonwalker John Young told journalist Billy Watkins in a 1999 interview that nobody knows anything about the people who helped make those flights so successful, Watkins made it his mission to identify the unsung heroes and learn their stories.

His subjects include: Julian Scheer (NASA publicist); Sonny Morea, lead designer of the Lunar Rover; Hugh Brown, one of the few African Americans who worked on the Apollo program; JoAnn Morgan, one of the few women involved in the space program; Joan Roosa, widow of Apollo 14 astronaut Stuart Roosa; Joe Schmitt, veteran suit technician was responsible for making sure the suits were leak-proof and hooked up correctly; Joseph Laitin, who came up with the idea for the Apollo 8 astronauts to read the first ten verses of Genesis during their Christmas Eve television broadcast from the moon; and Clancy Hatelberg, the Navy diver, who plucked the first humans to walk on the moon from the Pacific Ocean after the Apollo 11 landing.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Fred HaisePrefaceAcknowledgmentsHistory of Apollo"...The Eagle has landed"Steve BalesBruce McCandlessRichard UnderwoodClancy Hatleberg"We're not the Soviets"Julian ScheerJoseph LaitinHugh Brown"Thunder at the Cape"JoAnn MorganJoe SchmittJack King"Marriage, Missions, and Moon Cars"Joan RoosaRodney RoseGerry GriffinSonny MoreaU.S. Manned Missions SummaryGlossary



"Project Apollo was one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century. In the 1960s, the US developed its space program from suborbital flights to lunar missions. Much has been written about the astronauts, flight directors, and other high-level officials who were instrumental in the Apollo program, but this book focuses on others at lower levels who played important roles in the successes of Apollo. For instance, guidance officer Steve Bales made a critical call during Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing. As the lunar module descended, several alarms sounded, but Bales decided within seconds that these were due to computer data overloads and that it was safe to continue the landing. The images from Apollo were stunning; Richard Underwood was the NASA chief of photography who trained the astronauts in this important skill. Others featured include members of the Navy recovery team, public affairs officials, telemetry and communications technicians, and the designer of the Lunar Rover, among others....Recommended. General readers."Choice

"Journalist Watkins takes advantage of decades of close attention as he recounts the stories of some of the thousands of men and women who made getting to the moon their daily work and uncanny passion. He includes the story of a publicist who lobbied for a television camera on Apollo 11, without which we would not have seen Neil Armstrong take that step, specialists on signal-jamming USSR submarines and lightening, and the lucky folks who got to design the Moon Rover. It is clear Watkins would like to acknowledge the efforts of all (picking just 14 must have been agonizing) but those appearing here are truly representative of a breed of scientist and engineer, whose pie-in-the-sky thinking actually worked."SciTech Book News


"This book is 'new news' to all those who followed Apollo- including me. It not only captures the sense of team spirit and a desire to assure success, but it really brings out the human interest side of the program and highlights the contributions of those removed from the 'firing line.' It's a winner!"—Fred Haise, Apollo 13 astronaut

"Open up the pages of Watkins' in depth view of the unsung heroes of the Apollo mission, and you will get a clear idea of why the Apollo Program was so successful. Meet the people behind the scenes of our journey to the moon as Billy Watkins magnificently portrays the human dedication of many people to achieve man's greatest adventure."—Jim Lovell, Apollo astronaut

"Every story has a heart and a soul, and Billy Watkins hands these rich gifts to the reader with respect and perspective."—Lynne Russell, Former CNN Headline News anchor and award-winning journalist

"I met Billy just prior to the Columbia tragedy. After one conversation I realized that this was not your typical 'hometown' reporter but someone that could ask me questions regarding Human Spaceflight 3 or 4 layers deep and from a historical sense knew more about NASA's accomplishments than I did. Over the years, Billy has become a trusted personal friend and someone I trust to tell the personal side of this highly technical business. I am sure you will enjoy this historical account of the Apollo era."—Bill Parsons, NASA shuttle program manager

"Watkins flows each biography into the next with subtle skill, making Heroes less like a collection of disjointed stories but rather that of the team they were. If there is only one regret, it is that Watkins stopped at 14. After reading Apollo Moon Missions,The Unsung Heroes you'll realize how little we all know about those who made the small steps and giants leap possible."—Robert Pearlman,, Member of the U.S. Space Walk of Fame Foundation Board of Directors

Other Titles of Interest

The Very Next New Thing cover imageAnimal Behavior cover imageParadigms Explained cover image
Methods and Morals in the Life Sciences cover imageTime cover imageCompassionate Beasts cover image

Product Search

Product Search

Publication Year



Need Help? Try our Search Tips