Al Worden was at the peak of his career. He had just returned from the moon on what was being dubbed the greatest scientific expedition of the age. Upon his return to Earth he and his crewmates Commander Dave Scott and Lunar Module Pilot James Irwin met the president, spoke to Congress and were honored in a ticker-tape parade. In nine months he got a phone call stating that he was fired and that he needed to clean out his desk – he refused. What would follow went largely untold for four decades.
In Falling to Earth: An Apollo 15 Astronaut’s Journey to Moon Worden describes his fall from grace as well as his redemption and return. Apollo 15’s crew had entered into an agreement to transport first-day covers to the Moon and back. The crew had technically done nothing wrong but NASA did not see it that way. Worden would remain at NASA for some time at Ames Research Center before leaving in 1975. Over the years that followed more and more of the details of the incident came out, highlighting the problem was with NASA – not the crew.
The book is probably one of the most balanced books on the space program written. All the elements are there, the good and the bad. Unflinchingly honest (Gene Cernan’s Last Man on the Moon and Buzz Aldrin’s Magnificent Desolation are similar in their bluntness) the book details Worden’s experiences from childhood, to becoming a soldier, an astronaut and beyond are all covered within.
For aerospace enthusiasts, this book is a welcome addition to their personal libraries and comes very highly recommended. Falling To Earth: An Apollo 15 Astronaut’s Journey to Moon is published by Smithsonian Books, clocks in at 304 pages and retails for $29.95.Missions » Apollo »