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Book Review: The Final Journey of the Saturn V

The Final Journey of the Saturn V by Andrew R. Thomas and Paul N. Thomarios; Ringtaw Books/Univ. of Akron Press; $24.95 (hard cover); 2012.

This is a behind-the-scenes account of preserving an impressive piece of America’s space heritage.

To literally boost President Kennedy’s 1961 vision of putting a man on the Moon, the huge, 26 stories tall-plus, Saturn V launcher was the product of a huge workforce. As such, it has been heralded as one of great achievements of a can-do spirit that permeated the “space race” years. As the book notes, “the early sixties were a heyday of hope.”

Thomas and Thomarios have teamed to write a delightful book that spotlights the restoration of a Saturn V as part of a total “mission experience” destination at Kennedy Space Center.

The book focuses on Thomarios and his company that took on the task of restoring a leftover and corroding Saturn V booster that’s now on display for the Smithsonian Institution at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. The KSC Apollo/Saturn V Center is a tribute to the Apollo astronauts and the machines that got them there – and brought them home safely.

Thomas has peppered the book with countless historical observations about the space program and the development of the Saturn V as part of a family of powerful boosters.

This volume also includes a foreword by Apollo 17 commander and the last man on the Moon, Gene Cernan. He notes that the book is a celebration of both the Saturn V and resolute strength of the human spirit.

“It details in simple language the rocket’s creation, birth, life, death, and resurrection, so that future generations will never forget what was accomplished in the 1960s and ‘70s,” Cernan writes.

Given the recent parking of space shuttles into museums of space programs past, this book is all the more engaging – and is a reminder that America can’t simply rest on legacy and past laurels – but preserving great accomplishments is, hopefully, prelude and incentive to attain future triumphs.

For more information on this book, go to:

By Leonard David


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