Spaceflight Insider

Review: Moonshots & Snapshots of Project Apollo

Apollo 14 Lunar Module Edgar Mitchell Alan Shepard NASA photo posted on SpaceFlight Insider - Copy

Photo Credit: NASA

J.L. Pickering and John Bisney have done it again! The duo have produced their second tome, this time focusing on the God of the Sun himself – Apollo. Moonshots & Snapshots of Project Apollo, their companion volume to SpaceShots and Snapshots of Projects Mercury and Gemini: A Rare Photographic History, follows on the work the two have done to date to bring rarely seen images of mankind’s first foray to another world.

Throughout the course of the 272-page book, numerous black & white and color images highlight NASA’s Project Apollo. The book starts in 1967 when the Apollo Program was just trying to find its legs after it had stumbled. Two years after the loss of the crew of Apollo 1, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin strode across Mare Tranquillitatis – the first of twelve men to do so.

Moonshots & Snapshots of Project Apollo University of New Mexico Press photo posted on SpaceFlight Insider

Photo Credit: University of Nebraska Press

Pickering noted that producing this second book was a mixed bag of both trials and triumphs.

“In terms of the photos, it was both easier and harder. It was easier in that there was so much more material to work with, but it was harder for the same reason, because there [were] so many images to choose from,” Pickering told SpaceFlight Insider. “Fortunately, there are more rare images from the Apollo era than there were for Gemini or Mercury.”

From Bisney’s perspective, however, the work was easier in that there was so much raw information available from which he could write the captions and text from.

“There was more documentation, there are more manuals, more news coverage, and more people that are still alive,” Bisney added. “As far as sourcing information, this book was a little easier from my perspective.”

When interviewed about their book on Mercury and Gemini, Bisney and Pickering were asked about whether-or-not they were considering drafting a book(s) about the Space Shuttle program. They were a bit guarded at that time, stating that they would wait to see what the reception of their first (and now second) book received. For this interview, they stated that the chances that a third (and possibly more) book is in the offing.

“I would say, we’re leaning toward a ‘yes’ (in terms of producing more books in the series) we have been asked more times than I thought we would be asked,” Pickering said. “I don’t think that we could cover them all, and, as was the case with Apollo, the earlier missions are covered less as well – as those that followed. Our thoughts now are that, if we produced a shuttle book, that the first one would cover the first 25 or so missions.”

When questioned about the fact that there were so many iconic missions that followed the first 25 flights of the shuttle era, the two historians noted that there is a wealth of rare imagery, especially in the earlier flights of NASA’s winged orbiters, as these took place in the era before the internet, before digital photography.

One of the reasons that these books stand out from others like it is the fact that it does not retread the same photographic ground as those others. The hardback book, retailing for $55, has some 1,025 color images within it. It is published by the University of New Mexico Press and will be released next month (September 2015).

Moonshots & Snapshots of Project Apollo comes with SpaceFlight Insider’s highest recommendation. It is an excellent follow-on to SpaceShots and Snapshots of Projects Mercury and Gemini: A Rare Photographic History as well as an exceptional addition to any space enthusiasts library.


Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology,, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

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