Skip to main content

11 Books to Celebrate Apollo 11

"Twelve, 11, 10, 9, ignition sequence start. Six, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, zero, all engine running. Liftoff! We have a liftoff, 32 minutes past the hour. Liftoff on Apollo 11." - Jack King, NASA's "voice of launch control." He later said he was so excited that he said "engine" instead of "engines."

On July 16, 1969 - exactly 50 years ago today - at 9:32 am three men left Earth on an historic journey to the moon. Two of them reached the surface, 4 days and 250,000 miles later.

Since then hundreds of books have been written documenting the lunar trip, some by the astronauts themselves, others by diehard fans - some intended for the young and others intended for those who watched the mission in real time. I'm here today to present my 11 favorites on this, the Apollo 11 liftoff day! Drop a comment with your favorites!

Buzz Aldrin's Reaching for the Moon
A children's book with beautiful illustrations! I may be a bit biased - I got to meet Buzz and have him sign my copy when the book first came out!

Destination Moon by Rod Pyle
It's no secret that I'm generally a huge fan of Smithsonian books and this one is no exception. Rod Pyle has put together an impressive collection of photos and memories from the Apollo astronauts themselves!

First Man by James R. Hansen
The book that preceded the movie! First Man is the biography of Neil Armstrong, written after Hansen interviewed the man himself for more than 50 hours! It's not a short story, but it is an important one!

One Giant Leap: The Story of Neil Armstrong by Don Brown
I have been reading this children's book to Zara almost every night for the past month! Her favorite pages are the ones with an illustration of a lunar module - she zooms her own little lunar module model around and lands it on Tranquility Bed Base in sequence with Brown's story.

Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon by Craig Nelson
A historical book, but a thrilling read. Nelson is able to hook readers with his storytelling - making this incredibly complicated mission accessible to anyone who appreciates thrilling adventure.

A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts by Andrew Chaikin
If you are looking for the no-kidding historical record of the Apollo program, this book is for you. Clocking in at a whopping 720 pages, Chaikin captures all those tiny details that a space enthusiast lives for.

Magnificent Desolation by Buzz Aldrin
If you want the truest, true story of what it felt like to land on the moon, this is your pick! Echoing the first words Aldrin declared upon walking on the moon "Magnificent Desolation" goes beyond the landing itself - diving into Aldrin's, sometimes turbulent, personal life.

A History in 50 Objects: Apollo to the Moon by Teasel E. Muir-Harmony
True confession - this one is still on my to-read list! But it looks SO GOOD! I love books that dive deep into the artifacts (Smithsonian is great at this), because it makes seeing them so much sweeter.

Failure is Not an Option by Gene Kranz
As a NASA Flight Controller, this is my bread and butter - it's basically required reading! Gene still lives close to the space center and can often been seen in the halls of mission control. In fact, his office was just one down from my own! Check out this book for the behind-the-scenes perspective!

NASA Mission AS-506 Apollo 11 Owners' Workshop Manual by Christopher Riley
A brand new release for the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 - this book would make a great gift!

Celebrating Apollo 11: The Artwork of Paul Calle by Chris Calle
This book was originally released 10 years ago, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11. I met Paul and picked up this book not really knowing what to expect. I was blown away with the artwork - Calle is somehow able to depict more than the physical power of the Saturn V rocket, his brushstrokes invoke a gutteral response, capturing the immensity of the Apollo program and it's impact on the world. If you only check out one of these books, get this one!


Popular posts from this blog

The road to curing Type 1 Diabetes

From the moment of diagnosis, the road is rough, the learning curve is steep and the stakes are literally life or death. The map is less-than-helpful - paths originating from virtually every corner, coalescing at a center point (aka "diagnosis") and bursting back outwards - some paths cross and wrap around each other but others are isolated. And even with all of these roads, most of the territory is uncharted - how did we all get here and how will we all exit? Where are the obstacles we haven't found yet? Which passage holds the key to unlocking the solution?

On any given day I feel pretty isolated with this disease - I'm the only T1D in my group at work, the only one in mission control, the only one in my family. I go through the logistics of calling insurance companies, ordering supplies, changing sites and troubleshooting malfunctions mostly on my own. Even those pesky carbs really only get counted in my brain, no group think for a meal bolus here. But there is b…


Last week I had the chance to mentor a newly certified ADCO trainee - the NASA process is called "Hot On-The-Job-Training", or Hot OJT. What makes it "hot" you ask? Well, essentially I am hands off - he is sitting at the console, working all the plan reviews and updates, making calls to other flight controllers and to the flight director, reacting to anomalies and preparing material for the shift handover. My job is to act as the fault tolerance - a backup ADCO of sorts.

Tuesday was his last official day and by Wednesday morning he was in the backroom sending commands to ISS in preparation for the docking of a three-person Soyuz.

The beauty of this system is the gradual buildup in responsibility. There is a subtle shift from student, to subject matter expert, to fresh operations trainee to advanced trainee and finally to certification and real-time operations flight controller - the process takes two years on average and is considered by many to be enough specializ…

International Travel with Type 1 Diabetes

Whew! Back from one international trip and on to another next week! I will admit my eyes roll every time I get the "we're gunna need to pat you down" talk at TSA, but international travel is a whole different animal. I thought it might be fun to see what goes through my brain and into my bags for these types of trips!

I wouldn't be a NASA Flight Controller if I wasn't good at planning, the key to international travel as a T1D is PLANNING!

3 months prior

Assess supplies. Mine come in 90-days supplies so I like to inventory at least 3 months prior and make a plan to order more early if the trip is going to coincide with the end of my 90-day stock. In my experience supply companies are usually pretty good about adjusting orders as needed if you tell them the reason for the early request - just mention you have an international trip coming up and want to make sure to have plenty of supplies (and backups!) in time. Request a loaner insulin pump. It's likely the comp…
01 09 10