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We welcomed back to the show author and publisher Rod Godwin to talk about his latest book, "Manned Lunar Landing And Return" plus the untold story of Dr. Conrad Lau in developing Lunar Orbital Rendezvous (LOR). I asked our guest to introduce us to the topic, his book and to the late Dr. Conrad Lau and his untold story. Rob went into the history of LOR, including the dates it was first proposed and even written about, the delays before it was considered and the background and history of Dr. Lau and how he became the head of the project to promote it. Other characters and personalities in this saga were also introduced to us. Rob went on to say that with Dr. Lau as an employee of the Chance Vought Company, once LOR was decided upon, it was turned over to North American and other companies. This was a most interesting part of the story. The history was informative and new. We learned about Project MALLAR and those involved that would determine how we would go to the Moon. Note the politics of the day. It was political back then just as it is today.
Dr. Conrad Lau had a fascinating history other than LOR which Rob told us about. From his early days trying to join the war effort to being stopped from joining up to be more useful developing combat aircraft for the war effort, he seemed special with special talents and capabilities. He shined at developing combat aircraft including the WWII fighter the Corsair and then later the Crusader plus others. Don't miss the comments near the end of our discussion regarding the early days of digital flight controls and the development of "fly by wire." Note the role of Dr. Lau and others in doing this with the Apollo 15 guidance computer in a jet at Dryden under the auspices of Neil Armstrong.
About midway through our discussion, we were treated to a phone call from Dr. Lau's son who has the same name as his Dad, Conrad Lau. Conrad the son told us that the family did not know about the Dad's lunar program involvement until Rob called and told them. Also, I read from a bio of Dr. Lau which made no mention of LOR. As it turns out, all of this was classified which was why it was not in the bio I read but also probably had much to do with the family not knowing about his lunar development work. Conrad told us about their reaction and what they thought when Rob told them about their Dad and LOR. Unfortunately, Dr. Lau passed away in 1964, prior to the Moon landing which was based on his work.
We also took calls from Marshall, Tim toward the end of the show and from Pasadena Gene who wanted to talk about Robert Truax and his giant Sea Dragon rocket plans. In addition, we fielded many listener emails during the show so don't miss the listener questions and comments. That said, the history of LOR and the role of Dr. Conrad Lau was front and center for this show. To me, so was the development of digital flight controls and fly by wire which Rob discussed near the end of he program. Before the program ended, Rob told us about the companion book, the "Proposal for Man-In-space (1957-1958) which Rob put together and can be obtained through the Apogee Space Book websites, www.cgpublishing.com/Books/9781926837420.html and www.cgpublishing.com/Books/9781989044063.html. If interested, you can contact Rob through me or the book sites and ask him about autographed copies!
Rob offered us closing comments after talking to Tim about von Braun and his Mars books and works. Note what he said about the Apollo 11 Press Kit and other early projects such as the von Braun project, Project Satellite.
Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this show. You can reach Rob through Apogee or me.