July 16, 1969 at 9:32 A.M., the countdown began for the Apollo 11 lift-off carrying Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. and Michael Collins. On July 20, 1969, television viewers heard Neil Armstrong’s famous words from the moon, “The Eagle has landed.” This summer marks the 50th anniversary of this historic flight to the moon and the first walk by man onto its surface.
The Story of The Moon Landing by R. Conrad Stein is one among a treasure trove of books written about this particular journey into space and what scientists have learned since this historic event. Stein’s book captures the history of this famous flight as well as those that preceded it as he revisits historical events.
Photographs are used to let the reader “see” history being made. The reader journeys back through time to the ‘60s, when then-President John F. Kennedy stated in an address to Congress on May 25, 1961, “I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving this goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.” At that time, the United States lagged behind the efforts of the Soviet Union.
It took concerted effort by dozens of astronauts working with scientists and engineers plus billions of taxpayer dollars, to speed up the process of gaining on the Russians as the “space race” began. The numerous failed attempts and disasters (deaths of Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Edward White II and Roger Chaffee on January 27, 1967 from a fire inside the Apollo capsule) leading up to the success of the Apollo 11 are retold.
Once the walk was completed, returning safely to earth was a huge cause for concern. However, the lift-off was “flawless.” The heroes’ planned welcome back to earth was delayed several days as scientists feared possible bacteria on the moon may have accompanied the astronauts on their return trip.
They were proved wrong, and a huge parade honoring the three brave astronauts was held in New York City. After that initial walk on the moon, the subsequent moon walks were longer and covered more area than the original one by Armstrong and Aldrin.
Crews brought back rock specimens and soil totaling 841 pounds. Space travel continues to intrigue all of us. This is a good resource for finding out more about the space program. The Story of the Moon Landing is well-suited for intermediate readers.
Besides this book at Jefferson Carnegie Library are others with a space exploration focus. This year, our Summer Reading Program, titled “A Universe of Stories,” honors the historic “walk on the moon” in July of 1969. It is open to children entering grades K-5 for the 2019-2020 school year.
More information will be communicated as we near the end of this school year. I enjoyed revisiting this period in time and recollections of these events as I, too, stayed glued to the television enjoying the experience along with millions of others around the world as we witnessed that intriguing “walk on the moon.”
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