Books by Sullivan, Scott P.

Sullivan, Scott P. Virtual Apollo. Burlington, Canada: Apogee Books, 2002. ISBN 1-896522-94-7.
Every time I see an Apollo command module in a museum, I find myself marveling, “How did they cram all that stuff into that tiny little spacecraft?”. Think about it—the Apollo command and service modules provided everything three men needed to spend two weeks in space, navigate autonomously from the Earth to the Moon and back, dock with other spacecraft, enter and leave lunar orbit, re-enter the Earth's atmosphere at interplanetary speed, fly to a precision splash-down, then serve as a boat until the Navy arrived. And if that wasn't enough, most of the subsystems were doubly or triply redundant, so even in the event of failure, the ship could still get the crew back home, which it did on every single flight, even the dicey Apollo 13. And this amazing flying machine was designed on drawing boards in an era before computer-aided interactive solid modeling was even a concept. Virtual Apollo uses computer aided design to help you appreciate the work of genius which was the Apollo spacecraft. The author created more than 200 painstakingly researched and highly detailed solid models of the command and service modules, which were used to produce the renderings in this book. Ever wondered how the Block II outward-opening crew hatch worked? See pages 41–43. How the devil did they make the docking probe removable? Pages 47–49. Regrettably, the attention to detail which went into production of the models and images didn't follow through to the captions and text, which have apparently been spell-checked but never carefully proofread and contain almost a complete set of nerdish stumbles: its/it's, lose/loose, principal/principle, etc. Let's hope these are remedied in a subsequent edition, and especially that the author or somebody equally talented extends this labour of love to include the lunar module as well.

July 2004 Permalink

Sullivan, Scott P. Virtual LM. Burlington, Canada: Apogee Books, 2004. ISBN 1-894959-14-0.
I closed my comments about the author's earlier Virtual Apollo (July 2004) expressing my hope he would extend the project to the Lunar Module (LM). Well, here it is! These books are based on intricate computer solid models created by Sullivan from extensive research, then rendered to show how subsystems fit into the tightly-packed and weight-constrained spacecraft. The differences between the initial “H mission” modules (Apollo 9–14) and the extended stay “J mission” landers of Apollo 15–17 are shown in comparison renderings. In addition, the Lunar Roving Vehicle (moon buggy) used on the J missions is dissected in the same manner as the LM, along with the life support backpack worn by astronauts on the lunar surface. Nothing about the Lunar Module was simple, and no gory detail is overlooked in this book—there are eight pages (40–47) devoted to the door of the scientific equipment bay and the Rube Goldberg-like mechanism used to open it.

Sadly, like Virtual Apollo, this modeling and rendering labour of love is marred by numerous typographical errors in text and captions. From the point where I started counting, I noted 25, which is an unenviable accomplishment in a 250 page book which is mostly pictures. A companion CD-ROM includes the Apollo Operations Handbook, Lunar Module flight documents from Apollo 14–16, and photographs of the LM simulator and test article.

February 2005 Permalink