Think your project is difficult?
Think your boss is demanding?
Think the deadlines you’ve been given are unrealistic?
Imagine working for NASA 41 years ago and John F. Kennedy telling you to land a man on the Moon and return him safely to earth.
Most of the 40th anniversary coverage has focused on the success and wonder of the historic event, and rightfully so, but in a new and thrilling book, Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon, author Craig Nelson outlines the full story, the good and the bad, of the space and missile race.
Some nuggets you may not have known: (directly from Rocket Men)
– The thirty-story-high Apollo 11-Saturn V spaceship had over 6 million parts, which meant that under NASA’s rigorous instance of 99.9% reliability, as many as 6,000 could fail.
– The nearly 1 million spectators who began gathering at Cape Kennedy for launch on July 16th, 1969, were kept at least 3.5 miles away from the pad because, in an explosion, hundred-pound chunks of shrapnel would be hurled in a 3-mile radius with 4/5 the power of an atomic bomb.
– When President Kennedy proposed a moon landing within a decade as the most effective way to take the lead in the space race after the shocking Soviet achievements of Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin’s first manned orbit, even NASA’s most zealous engineers were aghast.
– The astronauts’ final breakfast on earth was steak and eggs. Why? Low in fiber and low in waste.
– The lunar samples brought back to earth by the Apollo missions revealed the moon’s origins.
– NASA designers had neglected to place a handle on the Eagle’s outside door, which meant that Armstrong and Aldrin had to make sure to leave it open while they walked on the Moon.
– When Neil Armstrong was asked by a reporter what one extra item he would take with him, his dry humor shone through. “More fuel.”
These and more amazing details are revealed in Rocket Men as Craig Nelson takes the reader inside the journey that changed the world. I highly recommend this book to not only space geeks and history buffs but anyone who wants a deeper look into the story behind the first Moon landing.
[Disclosures: I know the author Craig Nelson well and consider him a good friend. The link above is an Amazon affiliate link.]