Footprints in the Dust: The Epic Voyages of Apollo, 1969-1975

Footprints in the Dust: The Epic Voyages of Apollo, 1969-1975

Footprints in the Dust: The Epic Voyages of Apollo, 1969-1975

Footprints in the Dust: The Epic Voyages of Apollo, 1969-1975


Following the fortieth anniversary of Apollo 11, as NASA prepares to return astronauts to the moon, Footprints in the Dust offers a thorough, engrossing, and multifaceted account of the Apollo missions. The flight of Apollo 11 was a triumph of human endeavor, persistence, and technology, one of the greatest achievements in human history. This book begins with the mission that sent Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin to the moon, then follows American spaceflight through the harrowing rescue of Apollo 13 before moving on to the successful joint Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975. Drawing on extensive research and interviews with key figures in the space program, the authors convey the human drama and chart the technological marvels that went into the Apollo missions. They also put the accomplishments of American spaceflight into historical context, examining the competitive space race with the Soviet Union, the roles of politics and personality in launching the mission, and the consequences, practical and profound, of this giant leap for mankind.


Certain difficult and controversial questions always seem to be asked whenever my fellow astronauts and I are quizzed about Apollo and subsequent space programs. One that perpetually chases us around is why we are spending all this money on space exploration when it could surely be put to far better use right here on Earth.

I always respond to this by saying that not a dime has been spent in space; it’s spent right here on Earth. And not just on job creation: the incredible technological and lifesaving advances we now enjoy, as well as our current standard of living, have been principally driven and accelerated by our space program and those of other nations. The mere fact that you can pick up a telephone today and call anywhere in the world and the response sounds like it’s coming from next door—that’s space technology.

In an era when technology is fast allowing a merging and fusion of information science, telecommunications and computers, there are boundless opportunities for all of us in high-tech service industries, from electronic and fiber optic compression techniques to designer materials for specific applications, pollution control, and environmental monitoring. Think of global cellular phones, push-button banking, computers, and especially the Internet and e-mails; all have an unseen nervous system—a galaxy of satellites in both low Earth orbit and at geosynchronous altitudes. Much of what we take for granted these days has derived from space technology and exploration. The only other event that accelerates technology is war, and you know which one I would choose. I think you would too.

Of course when we think of space, we almost invariably tend to think of human space exploration; this natural quest of the soul, where we seek to go beyond our reach. It provides the underpinning for motivation, inquiry, inspiration, imagination, and our unquenchable search for knowledge and answers.

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