Here is a rare perspective on a story we only thought we knew. For Apollo 11, the first moon landing, is a story that belongs to many, not just the few and famous. It belongs to the seamstress who put together twenty-two layers of fabric for each space suit. To the engineers who created a special heat shield to protect the capsule during its fiery reentry. It belongs to the flight directors, camera designers, software experts, suit testers, telescope crew, aerospace technicians, photo developers, engineers, and navigators.
Gathering direct quotes from some of these folks who worked behind the scenes, Catherine Thimmesh reveals their very human worries and concerns. Culling NASA transcripts, national archives, and stunning NASA photos from Apollo 11, she captures not only the sheer magnitude of this feat but also the dedication, ingenuity, and perseverance of the greatest team everthe team that worked to first put man on that great gray rock in the sky.
This behind-the-scenes look at the first Apollo moon landing has the feel of a public television documentary in its breadth and detail.The book opens with several photographs of people huddled around TVs to view the event (one shows Italians watching a small set at an outdoor cafe). The author then delves into the back story of the organizations and hundreds of thousands of people who made the 1969 mission possible. Readers meet 24-year-old "computer whiz kid Jack Garman," who helped work through worrisome computer glitches during the Eagle's landing, as well as one of the seamstresses who sewed the spacesuits ("We didn't worry too much until the guys on the moon started jumping up and down. And that gave us a little bit of an eyebrow twitch"). The 16 chapter-like segments flow chronologically, from John F. Kennedy's 1961 speech to Apollo 11's splashdown. Thimmesh (Madame President) peppers her lengthy, fact-filled narrative with folksy adages (e.g., "Here they were, less than 500 feet from the moon, and just about plumb out of fuel"). The colloquialisms sometime seem at odds with the myriad of engineering acronyms and jargon. But the author maintains a conversational tone, and tackles and explains tough topics such as "cluster interference" in parachute deployment and a bit of the chemistry behind developing the astronauts' dramatic photographs, many of which illustrate the story. Even if the jargon gives readers pause, the little-known facts will keep their interest level high. Ages 9-up. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.