Apollo 15 command module pilot Al Worden was one of the highest-profile personalities among the Apollo astronauts, renowned for his outspokenness and potent views but also recognized as a warm and well-liked person who devoted much of his life after retiring from NASA to sharing his spaceflight experiences.
Worden had nearly finished writing this book before his passing in 2020 at the age of eighty-eight. Coauthored with spaceflight historian Francis French, The Light of Earth is Worden’s wide-ranging look at the greatest-ever scientific undertaking, in which he was privileged to be a leading participant.
Here Worden gives readers his refreshingly candid opinions on the space program, flying to the moon, and the people involved in the Apollo and later shuttle programs, as well as sharing hard-hitting reflections on the space shuttle program, the agonies and extraordinary sights and delights of being a NASA Apollo astronaut, and the space program’s triumphs and failures.
Worden delves into areas of personal grief that reveal the noble and truly human side of the space program’s earliest years. He does not hold back when discussing the shocking deaths of his fellow astronauts in the three major tragedies that struck the space agency, nor does he shy away from sharing his personal feelings about fellow Apollo astronauts including Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Worden was known as a charismatic speaker and one of the most thoughtful Apollo astronauts. His candid, entertaining, and unique perspective in The Light of Earth will captivate and surprise.
List of Illustrations Foreword 1. The Unmaking of an Ex-Astronaut 2. Doing Well 3. Enemies to Allies 4. The Twelve 5. The Other Twelve 6. Earth Views 7. The Hoax of the Moon Hoax 8. I Never Liked the Space Shuttle 9. So You Want to Be an Astronaut 10. Thoughts after a Moon Voyage 11. Risk and Death 12. The Point of the Space Program Epilogue Acknowledgments Appendix: Poem from the Far Side of the Moon Index
Al Worden (1932–2020) served as a support crew member for Apollo 9, backup command module pilot for Apollo 12, and command module pilot for Apollo 15’s mission in 1971. After retiring from active duty in 1975, Worden spent years in private industry before becoming the chair of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation and traveling the world as head of the Astronaut Al Worden Endeavour Scholarship. He is the author of Falling to Earth: An Apollo 15 Astronaut’s Journey to the Moon. Francis French is a space historian and author of numerous best-selling history books with international experience in relating science, engineering, and astronomy to general audiences. He is the editor of Apollo Pilot: The Memoir of Astronaut Donn Eisele (Nebraska, 2017). Dee O’Hara was one of the first women in the space program, working as an aerospace nurse to the first astronauts beginning in 1959, serving in the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs
"Anyone interested in better understanding the Apollo-era astronauts and their personalities will find this book to be a fascinating read."—Scott Sacknoff, Quest
"The US was the first country to land a person on the moon. Will it also be the first country to land a person on Mars? Worden, the command module pilot for the Apollo 15 mission, provides an answer in his entertaining memoir, along with many other poignant thoughts and insights. Worden's opinions about the space program and the people involved are both candid and unique. . . . At the conclusion of this heartfelt memoir, space historian Francis French provides a moving epilogue that serves as an exclamation point to Worden's own account of his life and accomplishments."—R. I. Saltz, Choice
"The Light of Earth provides a smart analysis of the space program after the Apollo program."—Arnie Bernstein, New York Journal of Books
"In this enlightening book, Worden gives his refreshingly candor opinions on the space program, flying to the moon, and the people involved in the Apollo and later shuttle programs, as well as sharing hard-hitting reflections on the space shuttle program, the agonies and extraordinary sights and delights of being a NASA Apollo astronaut, and the space program's triumphs and failures."—Jason Schott, Brooklyn Digest
“I first met Al Worden as a fellow young test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base some fifty-eight years ago. We were both chosen to join the astronaut corps as members of Group 5, known as the Original 19. Al and I had various training experiences together for our first year. I remember Al as being very friendly and outgoing with a raucous, unmistakable laugh. He made some of our boring sessions lively.”—Fred Haise, Apollo 13 astronaut
“From the moon to the bohemian midseventies in San Francisco and right up to his passing in early 2020, reading this book reminds me of how much Al Worden is still valued and deeply missed. His candor, bravery, and hilarity here make it seem like he is still with us.”—Emily Carney, space historian
“Al Worden was a heroic fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut who played a major role in the exploration of the moon, only to see his career derailed by circumstances he could not control. Now he asks: what do you do after you’ve been to the moon? Write poetry? Go into business? Run for office? With the able assistance of historian Francis French, Worden tells this poignant tale.”—Michael Cassutt, space historian and author
“This is a magnificent book for so many reasons: not just in creating a wonderful postscript to Al Worden’s amazing life but also in bringing us the man’s deepest and often unfettered thoughts—especially when discussing his fellow Apollo astronauts. . . . This is altogether one of the most profound, poignant, and introspective stories ever set down by an Apollo astronaut—and probably any American astronaut. Al Worden was a man with many truths to tell, and they are all in this book.”—Colin Burgess, space historian