Angle of Attack: Harrison Storms and the Race to the Moon
Apollo, the most ambitious engineering project ever undertaken by man - to build a rocket 36 stories high, load it with the explosive power of a nuclear device, put men on top of it, and shoot it at the moon - this is a task more complicated by far than the Manhattan Project and the Panama Canal combined. 'Angle of attack' is the story of one of America's most triumphant achievements - two decades later the Apollo Mission stands as a stirring reminder of what this country is capable of when the chips are down. In the panic that follows the Soviet launch of Sputnik, it is Harrison Storms, the legendary chief engineer of North American Aviation, who captures the job of building the Apollo spacecraft. Storms is one of the country's foremost airplane designers, and at North American he is known, only half-jokingly, as The Creator. But building the ship that will carry the astronauts to the moon and back is a challenge of a new and frightening order. As Storms and his engineers feel their way through uncharted technologies on a killing schedule, the blizzard of changing orders from NASA keeps the design of the ship a constantly moving target. To wage the battle, Storms assembles a vast technical empire that includes some of the greatest minds in industrial America. Working with Werner von Braun and the German rocket scientists from Peenemunde, they chase the triple nines (tolerances of .999), driving themselves beyond endurance to heart attacks, breakdowns, and suicides, giving their careers, sometimes their lives, to this colossal machine. In brilliant, high-octane storytelling reminiscent of Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff, Mike Gray dramatizes the quest for the moon and celebrates the triumph of American technical genius.