NASA celebrates the Apollo Moon mission’s ‘giant leap for mankind’
The 50th anniversary of NASA’s 1969 Apollo 11 lunar mission, when the first humans landed on the moon, was Saturday.
Neil Armstrong’s famous first steps solidified to Americans that we had won the Cold War Space Race.
As Armstrong took that first moon walk, an estimated 600 million people worldwide watched and heard his iconic statement: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Apollo 11 marked the culmination of years of work across the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. Thousands of brilliant minds and brave men and women gave their time, energy and even their lives to the program.
The Apollo 11 rocket launched from the Kennedy Space Center on July 16 carrying Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin. They were guided via the young scientists of mission control, who were an average age of 28.
The crew traveled 240,000 miles from the Earth to the moon in about 76 hours before Armstrong took his first steps on the moon.
And 20 minutes later, Aldrin followed.
Armstrong and Aldrin then spent over 20 hours on the surface of the moon collecting samples and data before returning home.
Five more manned moon missions followed.
Overall, 842 pounds of rocks and dust were collected and disbursed to over 150 labs across the United States.
Even today, information about the moon and its formation is being shaped by the debris returned to Earth decades ago.
You can find many interesting new books celebrating the anniversary of the moon landing at your Manatee County libraries.
“Chasing the Moon: the People, the Politics, and the Promise that Launched America into the Space Age” by Robert Stone and Alan Andres expands on their popular American Experience PBS film by telling the stories of important people to the Apollo missions that you probably don’t know about. For example, Poppy Northcutt, the first woman to work for NASA’s mission control, and astronaut Frank Borman, whose 1967 testimony to Congress helped save the lunar program’s funding.
Basil Hero’s “The Mission of a Lifetime: Lessons from the Men who went to the Moon” provides new insights from the NASA names you already know. In this book, the remaining living Apollo astronauts provide wisdom on what it took to risk their lives for space exploration and the important lessons they’ve learned about protecting our planet after viewing it from a distance.
“American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race” by Douglas Brinkley focuses on President’s John F. Kennedy’s role in the space race. While everyone may remember Kennedy’s 1961 speech calling for man to land on the moon, most will be surprised to learn from this book how intimately Kennedy was involved in the creation of the space program.
Call your local branch for more information on available titles.
▪ Central Library — 941-748-5555;
▪ Braden River — 941-727-6079;
▪ Island — 941-778-6341;
▪ Palmetto — 941-722-3333;
▪ Rocky Bluff — 941-723-4821;
▪ South Manatee — 941-755-3892.
You also can access the library via the internet at mymanatee.org/library.
Katie Fleck is a librarian at the Central Library in downtown Bradenton. Speaking Volumes, written by Manatee County Public Library System staff members, is published each Sunday in the Bradenton Herald.