Arranged in thematic chapters that will appeal to fact-hungry space enthusiasts, The Moon describes how early rocket pioneers such as the American engineer Robert Goddard paved the way for Wernher von Braun’s V-2 and, later, the Apollo programme. Fraser MacDonald’s Escape from Earth offers a detailed account of a little-known part of this story. While the V-2 was being developed in Germany, American scientists were working on their own rocket programme, originally with the aim of helping aircraft take off from short runways. When captured German rockets were brought to the United States at the end of the Second World War, it was realised that they could serve as the basis for a nuclear missile system. The man behind this was not von Braun, who had switched allegiance to the Americans at the end of the war, but a Czech–American aeronautical engineer with communist sympathies named Frank Malina.
This fabulous new book from the Royal Observatory explores the close relationship we have with our celestial neighbour, from the Ancient Greeks who mused about what it was made of, to its iconic place in literature. If, like the rest of mankind, you’re under the Moon’s spell, this is the book for you.