Book talks for readers at Chisago Lakes Middle School.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Team Moon by Catherine Thimmesh

Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon by Catherine Thimmesh

This week many Americans are witnessing a presidential election that has more historical significance than usual. No matter which party wins, there will be a “famous first” for the winning ticket. Many around the world, will watch TV on Tues. night on the edge of their seats, waiting for election results. Although this will be an important historic event it may not even compare to the drama of another historic television event watched by millions a few decades ago which was probably even more riveting.

On that July night in 1969, many people stopped working and gathered around a TV, many gathered outside of dept. stores huddled around television window displays, and even larger gatherings were organized in such places as Central Park in New York City. They were all watching, all waiting for something that looked like a giant bug or insect make its descent.

The giant insect’s name was “LEM.” Officially it was called the Lunar Module. The astronauts inside shouted back to Mission Control, “Alarm 1202.” Fifty thousand feet above the moon, they had a problem. Alarm 1202 was just a bug in the software, but for 20 seconds hundreds of members of the control team on earth were sweating it out trying to determine what was wrong. The whole ordeal was nothing but a false alarm, but in the mayhem the astronauts decided to descend slower than they had originally planned. With 500 feet left to go, the crew only had 60 seconds worth of fuel left for their descent. Would they have to abort the mission, keeping the astronauts safe? Would they risk losing the astronauts and/or damaging the Lunar Module? Well, you know the rest of the story. “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

You know that the Apollo 11 mission was successful. Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon. You’ve seen the pictures. You know Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins returned safely. They even returned with some moon rocks.

But did you know that there was such a fear that they would bring back deadly moon germs with them that the team had to be quarantined for an entire month with germ free mice just to make sure the world was safe for them to reenter?

Did you know that a windstorm in Australia almost prevented everyone on earth from viewing the historic moment 240,000 miles from earth?

Did you know that on re-entry through the earth’s atmosphere the spacecraft’s exterior would face temperatures as high as 5000 degrees yet the crew would be kept safe because of a special material that dissipated heat that was installed in the form of a honeycomb with 400,000 cells.

The number of cells-400,000 is kind of a coincidence. This just happens to be the number of people it took to land Apollo 11 crew on the moon. Find out about all the stories behind the scenes of Apollo 11 in Team Moon by Catherine Thimmesh.

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