Chariots for Apollo: A History of Manned Lunar Spacecraft

The story of Apollo is a remarkable chapter in the history of mankind. How remarkable will be determined by future generations as they attempt to assess and understand the relationship and significance of the Apollo achievements to the development of mankind. We hope that this book will contribute to their assessments and assist in their judgments.

Writing the history of Apollo has been a tremendous undertaking. There is so much to tell; there are so many facets. The story of Apollo is filled with facts and figures about complex machines, computers, and facilities, and intricate maneuvers - these are the things with which the Apollo objectives were achieved. But a great effort has also been made to tell the real story of Apollo, to identify and describe the decisions and actions of men and women that led to the creation and operation of those complex machines.

The flights of Apollo were the focus of worldwide reporting and attention. The success of these flights is directly attributable to the less well reported and less visible work of nearly 400,000 people in hundreds of different organizations. That the efforts of so many could be organized and coordinated so effectively is a tribute to American ingenuity and management abilities. Moreover, only those who were directly involved can fully appreciate the dedication, competence, courage, teamwork, and hard work of those people.

It is not possible to single out any one or even a few of the many people and the countless decisions, actions, and key events in the program as being more critical or important than the others in determining its ultimate success. Nor is it appropriate to do so since that success could not have been achieved without having first succeeded in building effective teamwork in an environment where every task, no matter how seemingly insignificant at the time, in some way affected the ultimate outcome of the program.

It was a rare personal privilege for me to serve on the Apollo program. The greatest reward was the opportunity to work with the many people in government, industry, and other organizations in this country and around the world who played a part in this tremendous undertaking. Words cannot adequately describe the extraordinary ingenuity and selfless devotion that were so often displayed by so many in surmounting the multitude of problems and obstacles that developed along the way. This program surely demonstrated what our great country can accomplish when the national will and leadership steadfastly support a competent and dedicated group of people who are unwaveringly committed to attaining a seemingly unattainable objective.

I hope that this book will not only serve future generations as they view the Apollo story in a historical perspective, but will also bring the satisfaction of a job well done to all those who served in the Apollo program.


General, USAF (Ret.)

December 1978