Monday, July 20, 2009

Michael Collins: “Carrying The Fire: An Astronaut’s Journeys”

Today is the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Andy Ihnatko honoured the day by dragging out his copy of Michael Collins' "Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys:" and crafting a very moving and timely blog post:

Last night I got down my copy of “Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut’s Journeys,” Michael Collins’ first-person account of Apollo 11. It’s one of the most marvelous books about the space program ever written. It was published shortly after the landings and stays firmly in the orbit of the events of July 16-24 1969 (the training, the engineering, and the mission itself), but also provides important context and background.

As pilot of the command module, Collins was no idle spectator to the moment when Armstrong and Aldrin became the first to step foot on the Moon. Firstly, because his role was no less important than that of the two astronauts who undocked from the command module and set off for the Sea of Tranquility. Secondly…because he was on the wrong side of the Moon at the time. Ironically enough, he was closer to the event than any other man or woman…but he couldn’t even listen to the radio chatter, let alone watch it live on video.

Andy copied out some of the more memorable parts from Collins' book about the time when Aldrin and Armstrong were down on the surface. It's a great perspective. As Andy notes, after 40 years, we are tempted to take what happened for granted. Reading these first-person accounts make us realize just how gripping and risky it really was. No one knew what was going to happen - they just went ahead and did it.

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