Sunday, July 26, 2009

40th Anniversary of Moon Landing

July 20, 2009 marks the 40th Anniversary of the Apollo moon landing. The act of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth requires three things: the proper spacecraft, the appropriate launch vehicle, and the requisite spacesuit. This is a book that is lovingly devoted to that last requirement. It is a series of dramatic photographs of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum's collection. It also includes never before seen historical images of spacesuit development and testing. It is a feast for the eyes and worthy of any space enthusiast's bookshelf.

This book manages to capture the magnificence of the Apollo program probably better than any other book. It combines quotes from 23 of the 24 Apollo lunar astronauts with 160 images taken from NASA's new high-resolution scans of the photos the astronauts took during the missions. The astronauts tell their experiences in intimate detail and their deeply personal reflections allow their distinct personalities and varied perspectives to really come through. It is a unique chronicle of a historic moment in time.

In the harsh environment of the moon's Sea of Tranquility lies a tiny silicon disc bearing messages of good will from the nations of the earth. In the four decades since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left it behind these messages have gone largely unread. Now we have a commemorative book which takes us back to that moment when transcending politics the entire human race really were one. It is a lesson that many nations might learn from today, and I only hope that this little gem of a book gets wide dissemination.

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