Entering the Race to the Moon - Autobiography of an Apollo Rocket Scientist

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This is the autobiography of a rocket scientist during the early years of NASA’s Apollo Mission to the moon. This writing describes four chapters of his life. Three were significant in U.S. history; early school integration in the deep south, a period of brutality in the Marine Corps, and the race to land a man on the moon. A fourth chapter includes short stories of his Sea Scout adventures. More

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About John P. Hornung

John was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He received his BS in Physics from the University of Louisiana, Lafayette in 1963, and was a member of the Sigma Pi Sigma Honorary Physics Fraternity. John obtained a Masters of Public Administration from The American University in Washington, DC.

On graduation from college, John was employed by a private firm at NASA’s Michoud Rocket Plant in New Orleans. The company constructed the first stage of the Apollo Saturn IB Space Launch Vehicle. As a Reliability Engineer, John worked with an organization that was the first to develop the mathematics and techniques of Artificial Intelligence. This technology was applied to deciphering the weak points in the Apollo Saturn IB rocket's design. In 1966, John was employed by a research firm which conducted military war games and advanced research for the U.S. Army Combat Development Command. He spent a short period in VietNam as a consultant to U.S. Army Headquarters at Long Bin. In 1971, John was hired by Headquarters, United States Post Office Department, Washington, DC. There, he led research and development programs and rose to Deputy Director, Office of Statistical Programs and Standards. In 1978, he took a position with Headquarters, U.S. Customs Service, Department of The Treasury. In 1993, while Director of the Agency’s Computer and Telecommunications Security Program, John received the Department of the Treasury's National Telecommunications and Information Systems Security Award, in recognition of his Program’s outstanding contributions.

John lives in Williamsburg, Virginia and is a member of the Virginia Writers Club.

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Review by: Gerald J. Domingue on Oct. 10, 2017 :
Review of book by John P. Hornung…
John Hornung has written a fascinating autobiography about mysteries that lingered on his mind for decades while growing up in segregated and desegregated New Orleans. He paints a picture as a young boy witnessing the battles and secrets among intellectuals, public and ecclesiastical administrators, teachers and students caught in the boiling cauldron of equal educational rights of the 1950s and 1960s. John was produced by two university academics, devout Catholics, a patriarchal head of household who imposed extremely difficult and nearly impossible disciplinary rules, highly restricted, regimented regulations; often impossible for him and his siblings to understand, and much less follow and obey this dysfunctional form of parenting. Disobedience usually led to corporal punishment. The mother, who deeply loved her family, was a highly respected medical scientist and academician, a university professor who was determined to keep the family together and functioning, despite the dominating and dogmatic personality of the husband/father. She juggled family life with research and teaching, while both parents were involved in the intellectual desegregation movement of the city, (although often clandestine; nevertheless, risking physical/harmful threats to themselves and their children).
The author leaves the family home when he was a high school junior to enlist in the Marines. Experiencing the brutality of boot camp makes one suspect that he had jumped from the frying pan of his upbringing at home and daily severe conflicts with the father, into the oven. He describes captivating military experiences and how he was able to achieve equanimity during his enlisted struggles.
John Hornung was a pioneer rocket scientist in the space development program. One gets engrossed by his contributions to the program and interactions with others/colleagues at various levels. The graphics in the book should be of interests to physics and space scientists. He worked among the first rocket scientists to develop the mathematics and techniques of artificial intelligence, applying the technology to untangling the weak points in design of the Saturn IB rocket.
Overall, the autobiography is an absorbing story about the life of a native New Orleanian, despite a very difficult upbringing (yet sometimes tumultuous) achieving success, while involved in a challenging role as a physicist-rocket scientist during the race to be the first to reach the moon between the USA and Russia.
This is a worthwhile and enthralling book to read.
Gerald J. Domingue
Professor – Doctor Emeritus
Zurich, Switzerland
(reviewed 8 days after purchase)

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