“Some things just can't be described. And stepping onto the moon was one of them.” (Buzz Aldrin)
At 9:32 a.m. on July 16, 1969, time stood still throughout the world, as thousands converged on the Kennedy Space Center and millions tuned in on live television. At that instant, the first rumbles began to shake the ground, as a small spacecraft attached to the giant Saturn V rocket several hundred feet tall started lifting off. Quickly being propelled several thousand miles per hour, it takes just a few minutes to reach a speed of 15,000 miles per hour, and just a few more minutes to enter orbit at 18,000 miles per hour. Apollo 11 was on its way to a historic first landing on the Moon.
The journey had begun over a decade earlier as part of the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union. While landing on the Moon was a noble goal proposed as early as 1961 by President Kennedy, NASA and the nation as a whole moved with urgency simply to best the Soviet Union, which had spent the 1950s beating America to important space-related firsts, including launching the first satellite and cosmonaut in orbit. In fact, President Eisenhower’s administration began the design for the Apollo program in 1960, hoping to get a head start to the Moon, despite the fact the plans originated a year before the first Russian cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, orbited the Earth and two years before John Glenn did.
Over the decade, NASA would spend tens of billions on the Apollo missions, the most expensive peacetime program in American history to that point, and even though Apollo 11 was only one of almost 20 Apollo missions, it was certainly the crown jewel. only one of nearly 20 Apollo missions conducted by NASA. And to make Apollo 11 a success, it would take nearly a decade of planning by government officials, hard work by NASA scientists, intense training by the astronauts, and several missions preceding Apollo 11. It also cost over $20 billion, making the Apollo program the most expensive peacetime program in American history at the time.
When the Apollo program reached its pinnacle, one of the men at the center of it was Buzz Aldrin, which was somewhat fitting given his family’s past. His father was a military test pilot, and Aldrin would follow a similar path on his way to becoming a member of the Gemini program and ultimately the Apollo 11 mission. Despite reaching the peak of his fame and career before the age of 40, Aldrin has continued to work in the field and has been one of the most effective advocates of further space travel, particularly to Mars.
Buzz Aldrin: The Life and Legacy of the Second Astronaut to Walk on the Moon profiles his life and chronicles the most memorable space mission in history. You will learn about Buzz Aldrin like never before.