Space history

Little-known twists in moonshot tales come to light for Apollo 11’s golden anniversary

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Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins (played by Patrick Kennedy) looks out at the moon in a dramatization that’s part of “8 Days: To the Moon and Back.” (BBC Studios)

Even after 50 years, it’s still possible to find new angles on one of history’s most widely witnessed events — as this year’s retellings of the Apollo 11 moon saga demonstrate.

The golden anniversary of the historic mission to the lunar surface in July 1969 provides the hook for a new wave of documentaries showing up in movie theaters and on video screens. Perhaps the best-known example is “Apollo 11,” which capitalized on recently rediscovered 70mm film footage from NASA’s vaults as well as 19,000 hours’ worth of audio recordings of Mission Control conversations.

But “Chasing the Moon,” a six-hour documentary series that premieres Monday on PBS, freshens the Apollo story in different ways. Oscar-nominated filmmaker Robert Stone goes back to the roots of the U.S.-Soviet moon race and brings in perspectives that rarely get a share of the spotlight.

For example, Sergei Khrushchev, the son of ’60s-era Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, helps tell the Russian side of the story — including the fact that the “missile gap” used as the rationale for the President John Kennedy’s ramped-up space program didn’t actually exist. Just before his assassination in 1963, a budget-conscious Kennedy floated an offer to cooperate with the Soviets on moon missions — but the Soviets turned him down, for fear that their secrets would be exposed.

“Chasing the Moon” also turns the spotlight on hidden figures including Poppy Northcutt, the first woman engineer to work in NASA’s Mission Control; and Ed Dwight, the test pilot who seemed destined to become Apollo’s first black astronaut but lost his place after Kennedy’s death. (In the documentary, Dwight recalls how Ed White, one of the astronauts who would later die in the 1967 Apollo 1 fire, kept getting fan mail that was meant for him instead.)

PBS is serving up several more final-frontier documentaries as part of its “Summer of Space” extravaganza, including a look at modern-day lunar exploration titled “Back to the Moon” (premiering July 10);  “8 Days: To the Moon and Back,” a co-production with the BBC that includes dramatizations of moonshot moments (July 17); “Ancient Skies,” tracing the history of astronomy (July 24); and “The Planets,” a grand tour of the solar system (July 24). There’s even an online-only space series called “Stellar” and a book tie-in for “Chasing the Moon.”

National Geographic takes a different tack in its retelling of the Apollo story. Premiering on Sunday, “Apollo: Missions to the Moon” knits together a two-hour documentary that relies exclusively on archival video. Poppy Northcutt makes her appearance in a ’60s-era miniskirt. There’s an inside look at the lives of the astronauts’ families, courtesy of TV coverage from the time. And we see TV personalities and news anchors chronicling the space effort’s feats, foibles and failures as they happen.

The Smithsonian Channel is adding a twist of augmented reality to “Apollo’s Moon Shot,” its six-part documentary series: You can download an app for iOS or Android that gives you the sense of sitting inside the Apollo 11 command module, lets you take a selfie in a virtual spacesuit, or watch a Saturn V rocket lift off from your AR-enhanced surroundings.

In cooperation with the Smithsonian, USA Today and Florida Today are gearing up their 321 Launch augmented-reality app to track the Apollo 11 mission as it happened 50 years ago, on an hour-by-hour basis starting July 16. The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation is offering it own AR app for iOS and Android called “JFK Moonshot.” And Microsoft has created an Apollo AR app for HoloLens — which unfortunately was involved in something of a misfire at its launch in May.

Book authors are also in the hunt for new angles to Apollo. When science writer Nancy Atkinson was doing the research for her newly published book, “Eight Years to the Moon,” she came across reports of a potentially catastrophic anomaly that occurred during the Apollo 11 command module’s re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere. The problem was addressed by the time Apollo 13 was launched and faded into the background.

Atkinson said an engineer who was in on the Apollo 11 debriefings shared information about the anomaly with her for the book. The engineer also shared the details with the team working on NASA’s Orion deep-space crew capsule “so that the same problem doesn’t happen for future missions returning from the moon or elsewhere,” she told GeekWire.

You can get the full story in “Eight Years to the Moon,” starting on page 214. “Being honest here, I want people to buy the book!” Atkinson joked.

Last month we compiled a book roundup for Apollo anniversary reading, but here are a few more new works worthy of note:

Check out Buzz Aldrin’s Apollo 11 flight manual before its multimillion-dollar sale

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The Apollo 11 Lunar Module Timeline Book sits in a display case at the Living Computers Museum + Labs, with a picture of astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in the background. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

The Apollo 11 Lunar Module Timeline Book that sat between Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin for the moon landing 50 years ago is going up for auction, at a price that’s expected to amount to as much as $9 million — but first, it’s going on display.

Today, for one day only, the ring-bound flight manual is on exhibit inside a glass case at Seattle’s Living Computers Museum + Labs. From Seattle, the book travels on to Palo Alto, Calif., for another one-day preview Thursday at the Pace Gallery. Then it’s off to Christie’s auction house in New York for a showing from July 11 to 17.

Christie’s is featuring the book as the marquee item in a 195-lot auction of space artifacts and memorabilia scheduled for July 18, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon mission.

The auction will also offer manuals from Mercury and Gemini space shots, space-flown flags and emblems, and dozens of documents and photos signed by astronauts. But there’s something special about the fact that the timeline book flew to the moon and back, and played such an important role in the mission, said Christina Geiger, head of books and manuscripts at Christie’s.

She expects the book to sell in the range of $7 million to $9 million. “This is firmly in the range of the most expensive printed books to sell at auction, and I think that that is fully justified, given what it is,” she told GeekWire. “It links us to the greatest adventure that man has ever made.”

The manual sets down the instructions for every step in the lunar landing sequence, and bears the checkmarks of the astronauts for each task completed. In his role as lunar module pilot, Aldrin scribbled down the coordinates for the touchdown on page 10, which Christie’s says represents the first handwriting made by a human on a celestial body other than Earth.

“It’s got quite a track record — sort of an out-of-this-world history,” said space historian Roger Launius, author of a newly released book titled “Apollo’s Legacy.”

After the moon mission, Aldrin held onto the book in accordance with traditions going back to the days of seafaring pilots. He sold the manual to a private collector in 2007, and now that collector is putting it up for sale amid the 50th-anniversary hubbub.

Geiger said the road show, which is coming to Seattle after stopovers in Hong Kong and Beijing, lets people in on a piece of space history that’s been out of the public eye for decades. “That’s part of the excitement, that it really was locked up for almost 50 years,” she said. “And so, [it’s] just tremendously exciting to bring it to people and get to show it off.”

Launius, for one, hopes the manual won’t be locked up again.

“I’d like to see it displayed in a proper way, made available for people to see … but obviously preserved and made available for future generations,” he said.

Armstrong and Aldrin
A photo taken just days before Apollo 11’s liftoff shows Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin practicing in the lunar module simulator, with a timeline book sitting open between them. (NASA photo via Smithsonian NASM)
Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin scrawled the lunar module’s coordinates in the timeline book just after the moon landing on July 20, 1969. (Christie’s Photo)
Apollo 11 flight plan
Apollo 11’s astronauts checked off steps in the flight plan as they were executed. (Christie’s Photo)

Jeff Bezos explains how going to the moon is harder now than it was for JFK in 1962

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Caroline Kennedy presents Jeff Bezos with a framed facsimile of a letter that was sent to her by Mercury astronauts John Glenn, Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom. (JFK Library via YouTube)

Back in 1962, President John F. Kennedy said he chose to have Americans go to the moon not because it was easy, but because it was hard. Today, billionaire Jeff Bezos said it’s still hard — and in some ways, it’s even harder than it was in the ’60s.

Bezos, the world’s richest person by virtue of his status as the founder of Amazon and the Blue Origin space venture, laid out his argument during a discussion with the late president’s daughter, Caroline Kennedy, at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. Today’s “JFK Library Space Summit” was a daylong affair that drew luminaries ranging from Apollo 11 astronaut Mike Collins to Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg.

JFK’s famous Rice University speech came up when Bezos reflected on how difficult it is to get off Earth and travel to other worlds. “It’s almost like God set this project up as achievable, but just barely,” he said.

The technical difficulties were huge when JFK pledged to send astronauts to the moon and bring them back safely by the end of the 1960s: Some of the technologies required to do so didn’t even exist at the time. Nevertheless, the job was done on the promised timetable.

Today, many of those technical difficulties have been sorted out. But challenges remain. Some of those challenges have to do with the time frame required for exploration and settlement beyond Earth orbit. For instance, Bezos founded Blue Origin nearly 20 years ago, but has yet to put a person in space or a payload in orbit.

“We are working on deep infrastructure,” Bezos said, “and so deep infrastructure takes a long time to build, and the pipeline is really long.” In contrast to, say, making a movie or founding a startup, “the kinds of things we’re working on have 15-, 20-year kinds of time frames, and that’s very, very challenging,” he explained.

“This is hard. And it’s supposed to be hard,” he said. Then he turned toward Kennedy with a smile and said, “I don’t know, I heard somewhere that we do these things because they’re hard.”

Bezos surmised that in some ways, it’s harder for the federal government to marshal its forces for new space odysseys than it is for him to do so at Blue Origin. He pointed to the fits and starts that have plagued NASA’s space exploration plans over the past 15 years.

“A lot of the big government programs get very protected by members of Congress,” Bezos said. “I assume, if I were a senior official at NASA, I would be very frustrated from time to time … because you’re taking an engineering mentality to an engineering problem, and that requires consistency of purpose. You can’t start and stop. You can’t change direction halfway.”

He said the problem arises when the space program is seen as a jobs program, with the requirement to put those jobs in the right states for the right senators.

“That is going to change the objective,” he said. “Now your objective is not to get a man to the moon, or a woman to the moon, but to get a woman to the moon while preserving X number of jobs in my district. That is a complexifier, and not a healthy one. … They didn’t have that back in 1961 and 1962. They were moving fast.”

The procurement process is also more complex than it was a half-century ago. Bezos referred to the fact that nine contractors submitted bids to build NASA’s lunar lander in July 1962, and the contract was awarded to Grumman Aircraft within just a few months.

“Today, there would be three protests, and the losers would sue the federal government because they didn’t win,” Bezos said. “The thing that slows things down is procurement. It’s become a bigger bottleneck than the technology, which I know for a fact for all the well-meaning people at NASA is frustrating.”

That mention of lawsuits could be seen as a veiled reference to SpaceX, which sued the federal government last month over its selection process for a rocket development program. Blue Origin, which could receive as much as $500 million in funding through that program, has joined the lawsuit on the government’s side.

Bezos said he was all for the Trump administration’s initiative to send astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024, which would be 52 years since the last human walked on the moon. He said sending people to the moon, and setting up settlements in the moon’s polar regions, would require government support — probably the support of multiple governments. Fortunately, a wide range of nations including Japan and European countries are willing to join the United States in its moon program, Bezos said.

“What I really hope is we stick with going to the moon, this time to stay, because it’s the fastest way to get to Mars,” he said.

The Boston event took place one day after Blue Origin conducted the first hot-fire test of its hydrogen-fueled BE-7 rocket engine, which is designed for use on the company’s Blue Moon lunar lander. “Data looks great, and hardware is in perfect condition,” Bezos reported in an Instagram post that popped up today.

Why go to the moon? Not just because it is hard, Bezos said. On that point, he referred to his oft-repeated observation that humanity’s growing hunger for energy and resources will eventually require expansion outward into the solar system.

“It’s not optional,” Bezos said. “There are people who haven’t figured it out yet, but they’re wrong.”

When the talk ended, Caroline Kennedy gave Bezos a gift that harked back to the billionaire’s childhood fascination with spaceflight. It was a framed facsimile of a letter from the Mercury era, addressed to Caroline and signed by astronauts John Glenn, Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom.

A couple of those names have special resonance for Bezos: Blue Origin’s suborbital spaceship, New Shepard, is named after Alan Shepard, the first American in space. The orbital-class New Glenn rocket — which is due for its maiden launch in 2021 — pays tribute to John Glenn, the first American in orbit.

Bezos took a close look at the letter and asked Kennedy about the text. “John Glenn says here, ‘Best regards to Caroline, and next time I’ll try to bring the monkey,’ ” he said.

“I was actually really disappointed when I met them,” Kennedy explained, “because I really wanted to see the monkey that had gone up into space, which is what my mother told me about.” That refers to the fact that U.S. space officials sent several animals, including a chimpanzee named Ham, on suborbital test trips in advance of Shepard’s flight.

“Why not New Ham?” Kennedy joked.

“Right, New Ham!” replied Bezos, playing along. “It will be a very small vehicle.”

Museum of Flight rounds up ‘Summer of Space’ goodies for Apollo 11 anniversary

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Elysian Brewing’s Space Dust IPA will be sporting space-themed labels this summer. (Elysian Brewing Photo via Museum of Flight)

Want a little space history in your beer? Or soda pop? Or chocolate? Seattle brands are banding together to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 anniversary, with the Museum of Flight leading the charge.

You’ll find a roundup of space-themed products on the museum’s “Summer of Space” website.

For instance, take Elysium Brewing Co.’s Space Dust IPA, one of the Seattle brewery’s standards: This summer, Space Dust bottles will be sporting a series of three Apollo 11 labels celebrating the mission’s liftoff, moonwalk and splashdown in July 1969.

If your tastes run more toward the softer side, check out the collectible Apollo 11 labels that’ll be part of Jones Soda’s 50th-anniversary lineup:

Jones Soda space pop
Jones Soda is putting Apollo moon mission labels on its bottles in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing. (Jones Soda Co. via Museum of Flight)
Moon Rocks truffle bar
Seattle Chocolate’s Moon Rocks truffle bar features a spacey label. (Seattle Chocolate Illustration / Jessica Allen)

Seattle Chocolate is putting a flag-waving moonwalker on the label of its Moon Rocks Truffle Bar, made of milk chocolate with bits of popping candy. The illustration is by Rhode Island artist Jessica Allen.

“May chocolate be your rocket,” the company says on its online ordering webpage.

Taco Time Northwest will be putting a connect-the-dots astronaut and other space themes on its bags for kids’ meals this summer, while Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream will be featuring a Summer of Space Sundae during the month of July. (With a name like Molly Moon, would you expect anything less?)

In addition to space-themed treats, there’ll be Summer of Space deals at Seattle-area establishments ranging from Daniel’s Broiler and the Four Seasons Hotel to IFly Seattle and Columbia Center’s Sky View Observatory.

Check out the full array online, and while we’re on the subject, check out our in-depth look at the “Destination Moon” exhibit, which will be at the Museum of Flight through Labor Day.

Lego launches a 1,087-piece Apollo 11 lunar lander model, astronauts included

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Lego’s minifigure recreation of the Apollo 11 lunar landing comes with a moonscape. (Lego Photo)

That’s one giant heap of Lego bricks: To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, the Lego Group is unveiling a 1,087-piece building set that recreates the mission’s Eagle lunar module.

The Lego Creator Expert NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander model, developed in cooperation with NASA, consists of an ascent stage with a detailed interior, plus a descent stage with a ladder and hatches that open.

Two astronaut minifigures are included in the kit, along with a depiction of the lunar surface complete with a crater, moon footprints and a U.S. flag.

In a news release, the company said the $99.99 set will be exclusively available at Lego stores and via the Lego Shop website beginning June 1.

The lunar lander set complements Lego’s 1,969-piece Saturn V rocket building kit, which was released in 2017. Lego also has produced a “Women of NASA” set of minifigures honoring four women pioneers of America’s space effort.

This isn’t the first lunar lander for Lego: A 457-piece version was released in 2003, and there was a 364-piece version released back in 1976 that looks like a Minecraft moon ship.

“We have been champions of the awe and wonder of space exploration through playful building for almost as long as the world’s celebration of the first moon landing,” said Michael McNally, senior director of brand relations for Lego Systems.

He noted that there have been “countless stories of engineers, scientists, astronauts and roboticists who point to their experiences with Lego building as the reason they are engaged in their current careers.”

“We hope that our ongoing commitment to space-themed play materials will inspire future generations to help us continue exploring,” McNally said.

One of Lego’s newly released kits features NASA’s heavy-lift Space Launch System rocket. (Lego Photo)

Lego is also unveiling seven new Lego City Mars Exploration building sets, inspired by NASA’s planned missions to explore the moon and the Red Planet.

The sets provide the pieces for a miniature space shuttle, complete with satellite and wrench-wielding astronaut; a Mars rover with crane and accompanying equipment; a collection of 14 space-themed minifigures, including astronauts, a botanist and a personal trainer; a Mars research shuttle with mini-rover; a lunar habitat with three modular compartments and a shuttle; an 837-piece kit featuring NASA’s Space Launch System rocket; and a 1,055-piece kit for building a rocket assembly facility with transport crawler.

Prices for those building sets range from $9.99 (for the shuttle and satellite) to $149.99 (for the rocket assembly facility).

Fifty years after the first lunar landing, Apollo moonshots inspire a new blast of books

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Books about the moon can help get you in the proper mood to see the “Destination Moon” exhibit at Seattle’s Museum of Flight. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

In the 50 years since Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong left humanity’s first bootprint on the moon, that “one small step” has launched one giant load of books.

Basketfuls of books about space are now hitting store shelves — not only to mark the golden anniversary of that first moon landing, but also to provide the context for a renewed focus on lunar exploration.

Whether you’re looking for an Apollo book you can read to your kids, an award-winning sci-fi novel about alternate space history, or up-to-date management tips gleaned from the early space effort, we’ve got you covered. Here are 18 recently published (or updated) books that are well-suited for this year’s summer of space, plus a couple of bonus picks.

All about Apollo

Nonfiction authors have been recounting the tale of America’s moonshots since “Of a Fire on the Moon” and “The Right Stuff,” but these books bring fresh perspective to the decades-old saga. We’ve also included a couple of classics that are getting fresh exposure for the 50th anniversary.

American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race: Why did we choose to go to the moon? Historian Douglas Brinkley tells the story of the space race with President Kennedy at its center. The focus isn’t so much on the astronauts’ “right stuff,” but on the politics that motivated the moonshots — yielding insights that could apply to the current space policy debate as well.

Apollo book
“Apollo: A Graphic Guide to Mankind’s Greatest Mission.” (Abrams Image)

Apollo: A Graphic Guide to Mankind’s Greatest Mission: In this compact volume, designer Zack Scott provides a visual tour of the Apollo missions in muted shades of brown and blue, black and gray. It’s chock-full of facts and figures, plus infographics that give you a better sense of where America’s moon explorers went, and how they got there. Bonus pick: There’s also a graphic novel about the first moon mission, titled “Apollo.”

First on the Moon: The Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Experience: Looking for an Apollo coffee-table book that’s more than just pretty pictures? Rod Pyle combines the iconic images of the Space Age with facsimiles of historic documents (including the statement that President Richard Nixon would have issued if the Apollo 11 astronauts didn’t survive). Pyle weaves a narrative that takes the Apollo 11 story up to the present, supplemented by moonwalker Buzz Aldrin’s foreword.

One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon: Charles Fishman’s take on the Apollo tale devotes a healthy share of the spotlight to the social context for the first mission to the moon, and the folks behind the scenes who made the “impossible mission” possible. Fishman will talk about his book and Apollo 11 at Town Hall Seattle at 7:30 p.m. June 28.

Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man’s First Journey to the Moon: We’re already past the 50th anniversary of 1968’s round-the-moon voyage, but it’s still worth taking note of Robert Kurson’s book, which has just come out in paperback. Apollo 8 was arguably the mission that put America on track to win the Space Race. The tale isn’t as well-known as the Apollo 11 saga, however, and that unfamiliarity adds to the novelistic appeal of “Rocket Men.”

Shoot for the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11: If you’re looking for inside stories about the buildup and execution of the Apollo 11 mission, Wild West historian James Donovan brings the goods. “Shoot for the Moon” scored a priceless book blurb from none other than Apollo 11 command module pilot Mike Collins, who said, “This is the best book on Apollo that I have ever read.”

Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut’s Journeys: I’m assuming that Collins was too modest to tout his Apollo-centric autobiography, “Carrying the Fire,” which was first published in 1974 and is being reissued with an updated preface for Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary. Bonus picks: For previously published perspectives on Apollo, check out “First Man,” James R. Hansen’s biography of Neil Armstrong; “No Dream Is Too High,” Buzz Aldrin’s latest memoir; and “A Man on the Moon,” Andrew Chaikin’s classic history of Project Apollo (with a new 50th-anniversary afterword).

Mostly about the moon

These books that take a wider-angle view of the moon itself, while touching more tangentially on the Apollo effort.

“Moon: An Illustrated History.” (Sterling)

Moon: An Illustrated History: Astrobiologist David Warmflash organizes his review of 100 milestones in lunar history based on chronology, page by page, starting 4.5 million years ago with the moon’s formation and ending in anticipation of a “Moon Village” by 2044. With 100 illustrations, the book would fit right in on a coffee table but is compact enough to sit on a nightstand.

The Book of the Moon: A Guide to Our Closest Neighbor: After laying out the basic facts about the moon in astronomy and geology, this handbook by British space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock focuses on observing the moon and understanding its place in the world’s cultures — including art, poems and folk tales about the moon.

To the moon and beyond

Learn how the Apollo legacy lives on through new space initiatives.

“Space 2.0: How Private Spaceflight, a Resurgent NASA and International Partners Are Creating a New Space Age.” (BenBella Books)

Space 2.0: How Private Spaceflight, a Resurgent NASA and International Partners Are Creating a New Space Age: In this survey of the new space frontier, Rod Pyle turns his attention to the leaders of the commercial space industry, including billionaires Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Elon Musk. “Space 2.0” also tracks the resurgence of White House interest in missions to the moon, as well as China’s moon ambitions and the thorny question of space property rights.

The Case for Space: How the Revolution in Spaceflight Opens Up a Future of Limitless Possibility: Rocket scientist Robert Zubrin is the president of the Mars Society, but he has a plan for exploring and settling the moon as well as a plan for the Red Planet. In fact, it seems that he has a plan for everything — including mining asteroids, colonizing the outer solar system and sending “Noah’s Ark Eggs” to other star systems. The last 85 pages serve as a manifesto of sorts, answering the question “Why go to space?”

Moon Rush: The New Space Race: Award-winning space journalist Leonard David covers lunar science as well as the other motivations to go to the moon. He also surveys past and future moon missions, including SpaceX’s plan for a round-the-moon mission and Blue Origin’s vision for lunar settlement. In addition to a foreword by Buzz Aldrin, there’s an afterword by Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt, the last person alive to set foot on the moon. David will be giving a lecture and signing books at the Museum of Flight at 2 p.m. June 1.

Space tales for kids

The past, present and future of space exploration, told in terms that kids can understand. Age recommendations are provided by the publishers.

“Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11.” (Simon & Schuster)

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11: On one level, Brian Floca’s “Moonshot” is a picture book suitable for reading to the little one on your lap. But there aren’t many books for 4-year-olds with detailed diagrams showing how a Saturn V rocket is put together. As children grow, they’re likely to get more out of the story. This 50th-anniversary edition of a book originally published in 2009 has been expanded to include more about the astronauts’ experiences during the mission, and about the people behind the scenes who helped make Apollo a success. (Ages 4 and up.)

The Space Race: The Journey to the Moon and Beyond: Science journalist Sarah Cruddas leaves no stone unturned in this survey of the world’s space efforts. There are special shoutouts to the space program’s women trailblazers, and you’ll even find a spread about the billionaire rivalry between SpaceX’s Elon Musk and Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos. Cruddas has scheduled an appearance at the Museum of Flight on June 23. (Ages 6 to 9.)

Hey-ho, to Mars We’ll Go: A Space-Age Version of ‘The Farmer in the Dell’: A sing-along book about Mars exploration? Believe it! Author Susan Lendroth teams up with illustrator Bob Kolar on a colorful book that offers new verses to the classic “Farmer in the Dell,” starting with “The rocket’s on the pad.” But wait, there’s more: Each page has a snippet of prose that explains the science behind the children’s verse in kid-friendly language. (Ages 4 to 8.)

Space with a twist

Out of this world, and out of the ordinary.

“The Calculating Stars.” (Tor)

The Calculating Stars: The first book in Mary Robinette Kowal’s “Lady Astronaut” trilogy starts with the science-fiction premise that a catastrophic cosmic impact forces humanity to make the leap into space, starting in the 1950s — with a woman emerging as a leading light. This month the novel won a Nebula Award.

Heroes of the Space Age: The third book on this list by overachieving author Rod Pyle serves as a “Profiles in Courage” for the space set, focusing on the life stories of eight American and Russian pioneers. Yuri Gagarin, John Glenn, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin are on the list, along with legendary flight director Gene Kranz, but there are also lesser-known figures such as Apollo 12’s Pete Conrad, Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova and computer scientist Margaret Hamilton.

Moonshot: What Landing a Man on the Moon Teaches Us About Collaboration, Creativity and the Mind-set for Success: Psychologist Richard Wiseman turns the lessons of Project Apollo into a personal development manual, complete with quizzes and exercises. (Spoiler alert: Failure is an option.) If you’re a space fan in the startup world, this one’s for you.

Do you have favorites to add to an Apollo reading list? Feel free to pass along your recommendations as comments below.

‘Destination Moon’ exhibit highlights Apollo history — and Neil Armstrong’s family history as well

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Mark Armstrong, one of the sons associated with Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong, checks out the spaceship that will his father rode to the celestial satellite at the Museum of Flight’ {h|t|s i9000|ersus} “ Destination Moon” exhibit. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

“ Destination Moon, ” the traveling exhibit making the debut at Seattle’ s Art gallery of Flight this month, places some of the greatest treasures of the Space Competition on display. But if you know where to {appear|appearance|seem}, you’ ll also spot small treasures that shed light on the life associated with Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong.

For example , take {a near|a close up|a shut} look at the picture of two as well as a boat, hanging over the black-and-white TV in what looks like a wood-paneled living room. It’ s a duplication of a portrait that astronaut Wally Schirra commissioned as a joke.

The painting shows Armstrong in the company of another Apollo astronaut, Pete Conrad, who ran the {vessel|motorboat|ship} aground because the two of them obtained distracted by some water-skiing horseplay.

Neil Armstrong’ {h|t|s i9000|ersus} 55-year-old son, Mark, says the particular episode taught his father plus Conrad a valuable lesson: “ However, best pilots in the world can {find yourself|turn out|finish up} grounded if they’ re not really paying attention, ” he told me throughout a sneak preview of the exhibit.

Mark Armstrong, one of astronaut Neil Armstrong’ s sons, checks {away|out there} a display that includes a reproduction of an artwork featuring his father and {other|many other} astronaut Pete Conrad. (GeekWire {Picture|Photograph} / Alan Boyle)

You’ ll find {numerous|several|a lot of} such personal touches surrounding the particular centerpiece of “ Destination Celestial satellite: The Apollo 11 Mission” — the Columbia command module that will Armstrong and the two other Apollo 11 astronauts, Buzz Aldrin plus Michael Collins, rode to lunar orbit and back in July 1969.

In one corner from the exhibit hall, there’ s Neil Armstrong’ s “ short-fat” {airline flight|trip|air travel} suit, festooned with zippers, Velcro fabric and NASA’ s logo design. The only problem with the suit is that its legs were a little too brief, and the waist was a little as well roomy. After Armstrong retired through NASA, it became one of their favorite coveralls to wear while focusing on his farm in Ohio. You are able to still see flecks of color on the pant legs.

Nearby are the fragments of the {initial|authentic|unique|first|primary} 1903 Wright Flyer, laid out {inside a|within a|in the} display case. The Air Force {requested|questioned|inquired} Armstrong to carry the precious bits of fabric plus wood to the moon and back again — and produced him an offer he couldn’ {to|capital t|big t} refuse. Mark Armstrong tells the storyplot in this special episode of the GeekWire Podcast:

“ Destination Moon” features more than a dozen artifacts lent by the Smithsonian Institution’ {h|t|s i9000|ersus} National Air and Space Art gallery , which had to clear out {a few of|a number of|several of} its own exhibit space a couple of years ago for {considerable|substantial|intensive|comprehensive} remodeling . The show-stopper {may be the|will be the|could be the} 13-foot-wide command module, with its emerge removed and displayed separately {several|a couple of|some|a number of} yards away. You can see the scorch marks that were burned onto the particular spacecraft during its atmospheric re-entry at the end of the Apollo 11 objective.

A nearby monitor lets museumgoers swipe and {faucet|touch} their way through a virtual 3-D model of the spacecraft’ s {inside|internal|indoor|inner surface}.

The Smithsonian can also be letting the Museum of {Airline flight|Trip|Air travel} display Aldrin’ s spacesuit {hand protection|mitts} — as well as his golden {headgear|head protection} visor, which reflected Armstrong’ {h|t|s i9000|ersus} image in what’ s usually considered the particular best-known picture from the Apollo eleven moonwalk . A giant version from the same picture, in black and white {around the|within the|for the|in the|over the} front page of The New York {Occasions|Periods|Instances|Moments|Situations}, is posted on the wall at the rear of the visor.

Seattle adds spice to the space display

“ Destination Moon” has already made stopovers in Houston, St . Louis and Pittsburgh, yet as far as the Museum of {Airline flight is|Trip is|Air travel is} concerned, it’ s best to {become|end up being} last: The Smithsonian’ s artifacts will be on display here during the real 50th anniversary of the Apollo eleven moon landing on July twenty. That adds an extra bit of timeliness to the show in Seattle.

Seattle’ s version from the show is special for another cause: The Museum of Flight adds to your home its own extensive collection of space artifacts to the mix, including full-scale {architectural|executive|anatomist} mockups of Boeing’ s lunar rover and the buglike Apollo lunar module .

The featured products also include {parts|elements} from the actual F-1 rocket motors that powered the Saturn Sixth is v moon rockets off the pad . Those rusty, twisted, beautiful {bits of|items of} rocket hardware were recovered just a few years ago from the bottom of the Ocean, and were divvied up {between|involving the|between your} Museum of Flight and the Nationwide Air and Space Museum.

Apollo eleven command module

Command component hatch
F-1 rocket engine plus components
F-1 injector plate

Aldrin' s helmet and gloves
Apollo survival kit
Mark Armstrong with flight suit
Mission Manage consoles
Carter Ewing with flag

There’ {h|t|s i9000|ersus} also a set of consoles from NASA’ s old Mission Control, a good Apollo twelve moon rock which was lent to the museum, and scads of toys, banners and souvenirs from Apollo’ s heyday. The particular Seattle show even gives the Soviets a share of the spotlight, along with displays featuring a replica of the Sputnik 1 satellite television , a Resurs 500 space capsule and a  spacesuit {designed for|created for} Moscow’ s early cosmonauts.

Fifty years after the celestial satellite landing, many of the items from those times look like antiques. The Apollo success kit — complete with a wicked machete, three pairs of groovy ’ 60s sunglasses and two containers of sunscreen — is clunky enough to fit right in a flea market sale.

That clunkiness is part of the exhibit’ s appeal, Mark Armstrong {stated|mentioned}.

“ If you take a look at all these pieces of technology — which usually seem quite primitive, but had been very effective — I think that really displays what can be achieved by hundreds of thousands of individuals when they all work together toward a typical goal, ” he said.

‘ Ambassadors for {area|room} exploration’

Much is promoting since Neil Armstrong took that certain small step on the moon — a step that he hoped would {symbolize|stand for|signify} a giant leap for humanity. A lot has changed even since Neil Armstrong passed away this year , just as the commercial {area|room} revolution was picking up steam. In 1969, the idea that billionaires would be able to {account|finance} their own space programs might have seemed as outlandish as the idea that simply no humans would set foot {around the|within the|for the|in the|over the} moon after Apollo 17 within 1972.

Mark Armstrong said the surviving Apollo astronauts and their families see the 50th wedding anniversary as a time for looking forward as well as for looking back.

“ We all feel the same way, ” he said. “ We {seem like|feel as if|think that} we are ambassadors for space {search|pursuit}, and we are thrilled to be {a part of|a portion of|a section of|a component of|an element of} bringing that excitement to the next era. Hopefully we can ignite in them exactly the same kind of passion that we felt whenever we were younger. ”

I asked Mark Armstrong exactly what his father might have said {in case|when|in the event that} he were present for the 50th anniversary.

“ {What ever|No matter what|Whichever} he would have said, ” Armstrong replied, “ it would have been ideal. ”

“ Destination Moon: The particular Apollo 11 Mission” opens to the public at Seattle’ s Museum of Flight upon April 13. Timed-entry tickets are needed for exhibition. Tickets are 10 dollars, plus the regular museum admission charge. There’ s a sneak preview for the Art gallery of Flight’ s members on Sunday, April seven, from 10 a. m. in order to 5 p. m. Space is restricted, and reservations are recommended. The particular exhibition will also be open for Yuri’ s {Night time|Evening} partygoers on April 12 . Other special events will take place during the exhibit, which runs through Sept. second . Check the particular Museum of Flight’ s {work schedule|diary|appointments} of events {with regard to|regarding|intended for|to get|pertaining to} updates.

“ Destination Moon” was developed {from the|with the|by} Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition {Support|Services|Assistance|Program|Provider} and the National Air and {Area|Room} Museum. In Seattle, the exhibit is made possible through the support associated with Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos, {Later on|May well} Clark, Bruce R. McCaw {Family members|Loved ones|Household} Foundation, the Charles and Mack Simonyi Fund for Arts plus Sciences, John and Susann Norton, and Gregory D. and Jennifer Walston Johnson. Transportation services {with regard to|regarding|intended for|to get|pertaining to} “ Destination Moon” are provided simply by FedEx.

As Apollo 11 moon landing anniversary nears, space fans get ready to celebrate

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Lisa Young, conservator at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, adjusts the gloves that Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin wore on the moon, on display as part of the “Destination Moon” exhibit at Seattle’s Museum of Flight. Aldrin’s helmet and visor can be seen on display, and in the famous moon picture seen in the background at left. (Museum of Flight Photo)

The countdown is on for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, and that means the appointment books for space luminaries and their fans are filling up like the propellant tanks on a Saturn V rocket.

Seattle’s Museum of Flight is one of the epicenters for the festivities, thanks to its status as the next stopover for the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling “Destination Moon” exhibit. Due to a remodeling project at the National Air and Space Museum, some of the choicest Apollo artifacts are going on the road. The Museum of Flight will be hosting the exhibit starting next month and running all the way through the July 20 anniversary into the Labor Day weekend.

Just this week, curators worked in a sealed-off section of the museum to get the helmet and the gloves worn by Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin ready for the exhibit. A magnifying glass was positioned near the cuff of a glove to give museumgoers a close look at the checklist of tasks Aldrin was given for his moonwalk. The checklist reminded him about an important chore: taking a picture of a bootprint.

“Destination Moon” officially opens on April 13, but VIPs will get sneak peeks starting a couple of weeks before that date. There’s a luncheon for museum members on March 30, featuring talks by Apollo flight directors Glynn Lunney, Gerry Griffin and Milt Windler. A members-only preview of the exhibit is planned for April 6.

The exhibit’s centerpiece is Columbia, the Apollo 11 command module that orbited the moon and brought the astronauts back to Earth, but Seattle museumgoers will be getting a bonus. Separate from the Smithsonian’s artifacts, the Museum of Flight is displaying the remains of Saturn V rocket engines that were recovered from the Atlantic Ocean’s floor during an expedition backed by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos.

July will be prime time for Apollo celebrations: For example, there’s ApolloPalooza in Denver (July 13-20), featuring Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt and famed flight director Gene Kranz. A gala is being planned at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida on July 16, the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s launch, and the National Air and Space Museum plans to present five days’ worth of activities on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., from July 16 to 20. (Check Aerospace America’s calendar for a detailed rundown.)

Many of the details for those celebrations are up in the air, so to speak. It’s not yet exactly clear which Apollo astronauts will be at which events. But there’s one place where Buzz Aldrin is sure to turn up in July: the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., where he’s organizing a 50th-anniversary gala on July 13. Tickets for the event start at $1,000. (The $3,500 Ultimate VIP tickets are already sold out.)

“I am still in awe by the fact that I walked on the moon,” Aldrin said in a news release. “I look forward to commemorating this historic milestone by reflecting on the mission that changed the course of human history and sharing my own vision for the future of space exploration.”

Seattle may not have Aldrin in July, but the Space Frontier Foundation’s NewSpace conference is due to return to the Hyatt Regency Lake Washington in Renton, Wash., on July 17-19. NewSpace will focus on commercial space ventures that could facilitate trips to the moon and onward to Mars within the next decade or two.

There’s so much going on in July that one 50th-anniversary space gathering had to be moved to September.

The Space Studies Institute, founded by Princeton physicist Gerard O’Neill, is planning a conference on Sept. 9-10 at the Museum of Flight to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landings as well as the 50th anniversary of O’Neill’s “High Frontier” space settlement concept.

“SSI 50: The Space Settlement Enterprise” will take a fresh look at the High Frontier idea, and take stock of new technologies in fields ranging from habitat and facility design, to space transportation to life-support systems and space resources.

Conference chairman Edward Wright said the conference will also take on the “800-pound gorilla” hanging over the concept: Is space settlement economically viable?

“How will you pay for these settlement efforts? What will these people be doing? Who will create the jobs?” he asked. “People talk about having a million settlers on Mars, but I haven’t heard a really good idea about what these settlers will be doing.”

Not having an answer to those questions is arguably the biggest reason why humans haven’t gone back to the moon for nearly 50 years.

Over the past five decades, there have been all sorts of ideas about what financial opportunities await in space, ranging from asteroids rich in valuable metals, to space solar power stations, to helium-3 fusion fuel from the moon, to space hotels. Figuring out the killer app for space settlement would truly be one giant leap. But Wright is realistic about the challenge.

“Our goal for this year is not to come up with the answers,” he said, “but to figure out what the questions are.”