Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon
Ages 12 and up
Houghton Mifflin, 2006, 0-618-50757-4
Most of us know that two men actually walked on the moon on that momentous first occasion in 1969, and most of us know that three men took that amazing first trip to the moon. What most of don’t know is that it took the hard work of literally thousands of people to make that journey possible. Without all of those people working together towards the common goal to get those three men to the moon and back, it would never have happened.
It all began when President John F. Kennedy made a speech in 1961 in which he challenged the people of the United States to get a man to the moon and back before the decade was out. The “space race” was on and the American people were tired of seeing the Soviets getting all the firsts in space. They wanted to claim a first for a change and they wanted to go to the moon.
It is hard to begin a job when you are not altogether sure if it can be done, but the scientists got to work. Once they realized that one spacecraft would not be able to go all the way to the moon they built several modules. Each one needed a different team to put it together. Then there was the rocket that needed to be built and tested over and over again.
Finally everything was ready and the day for liftoff arrived. The world watched on their television screens and in Mission Control in Houston experts of all kinds got ready for the event that they had all been working for.
Up to this point we have been reading the story about the years and months leading up to the first moon landing. What follows is an extraordinary account of the moon landing itself. We can almost hear the voices of the Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins, and the people in Mission Control. It is almost as if we are there, watching with all those millions of people. Extraordinary photographs let us see what the astronauts saw as they approached and landed and walked on the moon. We learn about the problems they faced and the problems that Mission Control tried to solve for them from thousands of miles away. We find out what their suits and boots were made of and can imagine what it might have been like to wear them. We find out how the astronauts were trained to use all the equipment and how valuable it was that they were especially careful to get good photographs and television images.
Finally, as if this splendid account isn’t enough, the author has put together a gallery of photographs showing just a few of the 400,000 people who helped make the first moon landing possible. Some of these people were mentioned earlier in the text. Personal thoughts about their experiences in the Apollo 11 program accompany the photographs.
This superb book truly shows that a big project like this takes the combined work of many people and that their contribution should not be forgotten. Catherine Thimmesh has created a splendid tribute to the entire Apollo 11 team, a tribute which is a delight to read and to look at. This book is a must for anyone who has an interest in space and space travel.
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