Apollo 15: Yellow Back-Up CDR Arm and Leg ID Mystery

By: JL Pickering

I receive quite a few photo related questions during the course of a year. I am going to use this space from time to time to start answering a few of them. Hopefully you will find some of them interesting.

First up is a question I often get regarding a minor part of the Apollo 15 back-up crew EVA training wardrobe. “Have you ever noticed that Dick Gordon was wearing yellow CDR arm and leg ID bands during training.” I had indeed noticed this many years ago, but had not put much thought into it. After being asked for about the fifth time, I looked into it a bit. It did not take long for my good friend Ed Hengeveld to produce EVA training logs that showed both prime and back-up crews had suited up at Kennedy Space Center on the same day (May 27) in 1971.
This fact apparently provides the definitive answer to the yellow CDR arm and leg ID bands. You can’t have two CDR’s running around in red ID bands. Photos below show Gordon (L) and Dave Scott (R) at KSC on May 27. Photos were taken at different times of the day. Prime crew (Scott and Jim Irwin) were training outside when back-up crew  (Gordon and Jack Schmitt) were inside.


To add a little to the story, Gordon is seen wearing red ID bands on May 12, 1971 as the back-up crew suited for an EVA training session at KSC. Gordon is assisted by suit tech (and artist) Ron Woods. Second photo shows Gordon on May 27 now with the yellow bands, which according to Ron was actually yellow tape wrapped over the red bands. Ron approached Dick Gordon a few years ago and showed him one of the “yellow ID band” photos. Neither one could remember anything about it. Obviously it was a long time ago.



Visit my website at http://www.retrospaceimages.com


Picturing Apollo 11, Back in Stock on Amazon


I am happy to announce that our book “Picturing Apollo 11: Rare Views and Undiscovered Moments” is back in stock on Amazon.

Picturing Apollo 11: Rare Views and Undiscovered Moments

“Picturing Apollo 11” Makes top 10 Creative Books to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary with My Modern Met.

10 Creative Books to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing

Best Books on Moon Landing

The 50th anniversary of the moon landing is on July 20, 2019. Looking for a way to celebrate this amazing human achievement? Just pick up a book! Books about the moon landing offer a detailed look at the event that left an indelible mark on our culture—including rare and never-before-seen images.

To help you wade through the massive selection of titles, we’ve picked some great books about the moon landing. One publication, titled The Moon 1968 – 1972, gives us a first-hand look at what Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin saw while walking its surface—literally. The book features images taken from their Hasselblad cameras and curates from a staggering 1,400 pictures. In doing so, it gives you an overall sense of what it was like to be looking down on the Earth.

Some of the publications on our list aren’t focused on the 1969 moon landing, specifically, but they demonstrate how artists and photographers are influenced by it. Color of the Moon: Lunar Painting in American Art, for instance, highlights the different ways in which artists have recreated the celestial body. Moon Viewing: Megaliths by Moonlight is another book that shares how monoliths, created by man, are illuminated by Earth’s satellite. While incredible in scale, the megaliths still pale in comparison to the moon that looms from way above.

Check out our picks for creative books on the moon landing and beyond, below.

Here are the best creative books about the moon landing (and beyond). They are a great way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the iconic event.


Best Books on Moon LandingPicturing Apollo 11: Rare Views and Undiscovered Moments by J. L. Pickering and John Bisney

Picturing Apollo 11 offers a new photographic history of the iconic space mission. It features “unpublicized and recently discovered images” that highlight the people, places, and events that helped Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin successfully land on the moon.


The Color of the Moon: Lunar Painting in American Art by Hudson River Museum

The moon is an alluring subject for American painters. Through an exhibition organized at the Hudson River Museum, this accompanying catalog showcases the different ways in which artists have explored the celestial body.


Best Books on Moon LandingThe Moon 1968 – 1972 by E.B. White and John Kennedy

The Apollo missions sent many men into space between the years of 1968 and 1972. Although each was well-documented, the astronauts were given cameras to snap pictures. Included is writing by the likes of E.B. White and President John Kennedy, making the book an exploration of the sublimity of space.


Best Books on Moon LandingHasselblad & the Moon Landing by Deborah Ireland

Similar to The Moon 1968 – 1972, Deborah Ireland’s book Hasselblad & the Moon Landingis an examination of the shots that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin snapped using their Hasselblad 500EL cameras. While it shares these firsthand images of the moon, the work also touches on the challenge of creating a camera that could take these pictures in the first place.


Best Books on Moon LandingMoon Viewing: Megaliths by Moonlight by Barbara Yoshida

Megalithic monuments (such as Stonehenge) are found around the world. Barbara Yoshida documents these monoliths with 10 years of travel, and her published work showcases how the giant stones look against the moon and stars.


Moon Landing AnniversaryMoon: The Art, Science and Culture of the Moon by Alexandra Loske and Robert Massey

We are endlessly fascinated with the moon and express our allure for it through storytelling, artwork, and, of course, scientific explorations. Alexandra Loske and Robert Massey trace the visual history of the moon in this “illuminating volume.”


Moon Landing AnniversaryApollo’s Muse: The Moon in the Age of Photography by Mia Fineman and Beth Saunders

The field of photography has undergone immense changes since the advent of the first photographApollo’s Muse showcases the history of photographic representations of the moon from daguerreotypes to video art.


Moon Landing AnniversaryEarthrise: How Man First Saw the Earth by Robert Poole

What happened when our imagined visions of Earth met the reality of it? Earthrise is the story of the first photographs of Earth from outer space and the impact it had on our culture, science, and religion.


Moon Landing AnniversaryWe Could Not Fail: The First African Americans in the Space Program by Richard Paul and Steven Moss

The Space Age began as the fight for civil rights “forced Americans to confront the long and bitter legacy of slavery, discrimination, and violence against African Americans.” During this time, Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson used federal equal employment opportunity laws to open jobs at NASA and NASA contractors to African Americans. Authors Richard Paul and Steven Moss profile 10 African American space workers whose roles at NASA and the space program helped promote civil rights.


Best Books on Moon LandingApollo to the Moon: A History in 50 Objects by Teasel E. Muir-Harmony

Using 50 artifacts from the Smithsonian archives, author Teasel E. Muir-Harmony tells the story of the Apollo 11 landing and man’s subsequent walk on the moon. The curated objects range from the lunar rover to space food to moon rocks, and each tells an interesting story that ultimately helped make the mission a success.



Picturing Apollo 11 in LA Times Top 8 Apollo Anniversary Book Reviews

The Apollo 11 mission to the moon launched 50 years ago. These 8 books tell the story

Buzz Aldrin’s 1969 moonwalk

Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin walks on the moon. He and Neil Armstrong their historic landing on July 20, 1969.

Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most remarkable moments in American history: the day that astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon. The Apollo 11 mission remains one of NASA’s most incredible achievements, and photographs from the moon landing are some of the most recognizable images in the world.

If you’re interested in the stories behind the historic mission (or are the parent of a young space buff), there’s no shortage of reading material that will help you understand Apollo 11 and the turbulent history of the era in which it took place. Here are eight books inspired by the moonshot for readers of all ages.

“Shoot for the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11,” James Donovan

Dallas author Donovan’s new book is a narrative chronicle of the famous NASA voyage set against the backdrop of the Cold War. Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins called the book “extensively researched and meticulously accurate” and “the best book on Apollo that I have read.”

“One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon,” Charles Fishman

Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins tend to get all the glory, but the moonshot was the result of hard work by hundreds of people whose names aren’t as familiar to most Americans. Fishman’s 2019 book takes a look at the scientists, mathematicians and factory workers who helped make Apollo 11 a success.

“The NASA Archives: 60 Years in Space,” Piers Bizony, Andrew Chaikin and Roger Launius

Publisher Taschen is known for its elaborately constructed and gorgeous art books. Its new volume about NASA is an illustrated history of the space agency that features more than 400 photographs documenting America’s history in space. In a review for the L.A. Times, Drew Tewksbury wrote that the book “catalogs with beautiful detail the rapid pace of scientific and engineering advances during the 20th-century space race.”

“Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11,” Brian Floca

Kids with an interest in space will likely be fascinated by this story of the moon landing from award-winning children’s book author and artist Floca. The book tells the story of NASA’s historic mission, from takeoff to touchdown, using simple language and dramatic illustrations.

“Reaching for the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson,” Katherine Johnson

Apollo 11 wouldn’t have been possible without Johnson, the mathematician whose work helped launch many of NASA’s most important projects. In her new autobiography for young readers, the 100-year-old Johnson (one of the subjects of the hit book and movie “Hidden Figures”) writes about her childhood and her remarkable career, when she was forced to deal with racism and sexism on a daily basis.

“The Penguin Book of Outer Space Exploration: NASA and the Incredible Story of Human Spaceflight,” edited by John Logsdon

Space-obsessed readers will likely find plenty to hold their interest in this curated collection of historical documents dealing with Apollo 11 as well as other NASA missions. Edited by the founder of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, the book features a foreword by everyone’s favorite science guy, television personality Bill Nye.

“I Love You, Michael Collins,” Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Baratz-Logsted’s 2017 book for middle-grade readers follows 10-year-old Mamie Anderson, whose class is given an assignment to write letters to the Apollo 11 astronauts. Mamie, whose family is in the midst of an upheaval, chooses the space explorer she has the greatest connection with: Michael Collins, the only one of the three astronauts who didn’t get to set foot on the moon.

“Picturing Apollo 11: Rare Views and Undiscovered Moments,” J.L. Pickering and John Bisney

The Apollo 11 moon landing was responsible for some of the most iconic images in American history. In their new book, Pickering and Bisney present a host of never-before-seen photographs of the mission, including images of the three astronauts, the Kennedy Space Center and spectators gathered to watch history being made before their eyes.


Picturing Apollo 11: Rare Views and Undiscovered Moments


Need a gift idea for Fathers Day?

Fathers Day is June 16th.

Fathers day Project2[9248]


Picturing Apollo 11 and The Space Age Presidency of JFK


Other Fathers Day suggestions from our collection.



Spaceshots and Snapshots of Projects Mercury and Gemini




Moonshots and Snapshots of Project Apollo


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Live from the Orlando Science Center, it’s Science Night Live! By: Shelley Caran

Science Night Live June 1 - Roberto Gonzalez_1559054162605.png_15404468_ver1.0_640_360

We are happy to participate in this event June 1st, from 8:30 to 10:00 pm, for a talk and book signing of Picturing Apollo 11: Rare Views and Undiscovered Moments. 

Science Night Live at Orlando Science Center is your chance to spark your curiosity through fun exhibits and programs… with some adult beverages, of course!

Bring your friends or make a date night of enjoying a unique experiences featuring workshops in The Hive, experiments in Dr. Dare’s Lab, special guest speakers, entertainment, and so much more!

Science Night Live Speakers

Each Science Night Live guests have the chance to hear from some of the greatest minds around!

From Boeing engineers who work on spacecrafts to professors talking about the species within your feces, these speakers are guaranteed to leave you with a new sense of knowledge each and every Science Night Live.

Featured This Event:

Joseph Donoghue, Coastal Marine Geologist, University of Central Florida

Dr. Donoghue, a faculty member of the Planetary Sciences Program in the Department of Physics at UCF presents Knowledge vs. Belief in Climate Change. This expert in climate change will examine coastal processes and climate misinformation and disinformation that have obscured the fact that climate has been changing constantly for most of Earth’s history.

Picturing Apollo 11 – Talks and book signing with authors J.L. Pickering and John Bisney

Journey through this unprecedented photographic history of the space mission that defined an era. Contribute to conversations with historian and authority J.L. Pickering who has archived rare space images for more than 40 years and journalist John Bisney who has covered the space program for CNN, the Discovery Science Channel, and SiriusXM Radio.

Picturing Apollo 11: Rare Views and Undiscovered Moments.


Science Night Live Workshops

Step into The Hive: A Makerspace and walk out with a new sense of creativity. Whether you’re making friendship bracelets or recycled costumes – you and your friends will create lasting memories during Science Night Live Workshops.

Then, make your way to Dr. Dare’s Lab, strap on a pair of goggles and a lab coat and become the scientist in these self-led experiments.

Featured This Event:

Head to The Hive to create your own unique fish printed re-usable tote bags.

Have you ever dissected a squid? Now’s your chance! Need we say more?

Science Night Live Programs

Whether it’s the interactive Science Live! Show, competitive Science Trivia, or looking to the stars on the terrace, the Orlando Science Center staff prepares unique and exciting programs for your to enjoy during Science Night Live.

Featured This Event:

Don’t miss the all-new Science Live! Show, enter the Dojo and learn about the science of ninjas, take part in special Science Trivia, attend a Reef Talk in NatureWorks, and more.

Science Night Live Exhibits

Explore the science center without the kids! From KineticZone to our traveling exhibit, there’s no age limit on fun and curiosity.

Featured This Event:

Be one of the first to explore the Orlando Science Center’s newest traveling exhibit: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secrets of the Sewer!

Plus, explore all four floors of the Science Center, and enjoy food and adult beverages!

Tickets to Science Night Live at the Orlando Science Center are are available now for ONLY $16, and guests must be 21 to attend.

#BookReview – Picturing Apollo 11: Rare Views and Undiscovered Moments Ross in Air Power History, Book Review, Cold War, Space Power April 9, 2019 1,119 Words

Thank you Dr. Brian Laslie for the review!


J.L. Pickering and John Bisney, Picturing Apollo 11: Rare Views and Undiscovered Moments. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2019. Hbk. 264 pp.

A different type of book necessitates a different type of book review. Herein you will not find an author’s argument or a critique thereof since the book being discussed today is a collection of photographs and an excellent one at that. J.L. Pickering and John Bisney have brought us Picturing Apollo 11: Rare Views and Undiscovered Moments. As we approach the 50thanniversary of the first moon landing, there is sure to be a proliferation of all sorts of materials, merchandise, and collectables celebrating one of, if not the defining moment of the 20th Century and in what will undoubtedly be a crowded field, it will be difficult for printed works to stand out. Pickering and Bisney have accomplished just that, a unique look at the Apollo 11 mission through photographs: both official and candid – many of which have never been published before.

It is common practice for me that when a book arrives in my mailbox, I will take a few minutes and flip through it. It should be noted that when Picturing Apollo 11arrived on my doorstep, I stopped what I was doing, sat down, and read the entire book (insert joke here about my ‘reading’ a picture book). However, this extremely well-done book did what few other works can do, it stopped me in my tracks. Divided into nine chapters, the book covers everything from the assembly of their Saturn V, training for the mission, all the way through the triumphant return home. Rather than review the book as you might typically find on the site, I have decided to highlight some of my favourite photographs from the book.

Any of the shots of the Saturn V rocket, Service Module, Command Module, or Lunar Module arriving at the Cape and being ‘processed’ and stacked are compelling. However, I found myself especially drawn to photos of the Command Module (CM) wrapped in the protective blue plastic covering (p. 51) – this was how Apollo Nine’s CM came to be known as ‘Gumdrop.’ If you have ever viewed one of the Apollo CMs in a museum setting – I am currently trying to see them all – you have only ever seen the scorched and burned relic after its re-entry. There is something inexplicably ‘technological’ when you view the CM as it was before being mounted on the Service Module; the newness and perfection of the CM in its original state are fascinating. It is also especially entertaining to see the many ‘Remove Before Flight’ banners hanging about the CM as if it has been decorated with red sprinkles in addition to its blue wrapping.

I also enjoyed many of the candid shots of Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins during training (pp. 71-80) or visiting (pp. 82-8) the Apollo support sites around the country. Sixties fashion is on full display in these pages and as representative of the times as the astronaut’s moon suits!  In this vein, there is an excellent shot of a group of the Apollo Astronauts at the US Navy Diving School in Key West, Florida; love the paisley shirt, Neil!

Military pilots love the T-38, and NASA used the versatile training aircraft to keep up the astronaut’s proficiencies, but also as a way for the astronauts to travel rapidly across the country from Texas to Florida, California, and Missouri. Here, there is an excellent shot of Armstrong and NASA’s Flight Crew Operations Director Deke Slayton (p. 95) strolling away from their parked T-38; while Armstrong looks conservative in his blue flight suit, Slayton looks every bit the fighter pilot and a bit more devil-may-care. Their personalities come forth in the photograph: Armstrong the Engineer, Slayton, the tough-as-nails director.

The pictures from all the moon landings are amazing, but as better equipment was sent up on later missions, those shots became increasingly more precise and crisper. Armstrong and Aldrin suffered from being the first in this regard, but modern photographic enhancement has brought the Apollo 11 shots into better relief. In this regard, my favourite photograph in the book is a shot of Aldrin and the American Flag (p. 193), where if you look close enough, you can clearly see Aldrin’s face inside the suit looking towards Armstrong. As you may know the pictures of Armstrong on the lunar surface are limited, but a great photograph of a relaxed looking Armstrong back inside the Eagle smiling after the EVA was completed sums up his feelings after landing and walking on the moon.

Picturing Apollo 11 is nothing short of a masterpiece. It is a truly unique work and a compelling collection of photographs that is sure to fire the imagination of those who remember the mission and those looking retrospectively at an event they were not around to see. As I closed the book, I again wondered, when will we return?

After you have ordered Picturing Apollo 11, I also highly encourage you to pick up a copy of Apollo VII-XVII a photographic journey through all the Apollo missions.

Dr Brian Laslie is an Air Force Historian and currently the Deputy Command Historian at North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM). A 2001 graduate of The Citadel and a historian of air power studies, he received his PhD from Kansas State University in 2013. His first book The Air Force Way of War (2015) was selected for the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s and the Royal Air Force’s Chief of the Air Staff professional reading lists. His recently published Architect of Air Power: General Laurence S. Kuter and the Birth of the US Air Force.  He lives in Colorado Springs. He can be found on Twitter at @BrianLaslie.

Header Image: On 1 March 1968, the Saturn S-IC-6 arrived at the Mississippi Test Facility – today’s NASA Stennis Space Center – from the Michoud Assembly Facility. The was the first stage section of the Saturn V rocket the took Apollo 11 into space. (Source: NASA)

Picturing Apollo 11 Release, University of Florida Press Publication Announcement.

Picturing Apollo 11

10102018133123_500x500“50 years ago this July, Neil Armstrong took ‘one giant leap for mankind’ as he became the first human to step foot on the moon’s surface—and now, never-before-seen pictures provide a unique glimpse behind the profound 1969 voyage.”—Daily Mail

“Across 10 well-organized chapters, the selected images capture the country’s mounting excitement; the meticulous preparation of astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins; and finally the moon landing itself and the crew’s return to Earth. . . . The reader is left with an ample sense of the astronauts’ fame and, thanks to Pickering and Bisney’s wise selections, of their lasting accomplishment.”—Publishers Weekly

“Focused almost exclusively on the three astronauts of Apollo 11, this profusely illustrated book recounts the adventure of the first Moon landing.”—Roger D. Launius, former associate director of collections and curatorial affairs, National Air and Space Museum

“A visual feast. We’re right alongside Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins, and Buzz Aldrin through the months of training, the incredible journey to the Moon, and the hero’s welcome that greeted their return. Pickering and Bisney have produced a precious chronicle of a time that will never come again.”—Andrew Chaikin, author of A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts

“Visually engaging and comprehensive. From training to splashdown, from the Saturn V towering on the launchpad to intimate moments among the crew, Picturing Apollo 11offers a rich portrait of the first lunar landing.”—Teasel Muir-Harmony, author of Apollo to the Moon: A History in 50 Objects

“Apollo 11 was humanity’s greatest achievement. Pickering and Bisney have collected some of the best images of little-known events from the lead-up to humankind’s first steps on another world.”—Jason Rhian, senior editor, SpaceFlight Insider

“A vivid reminder that Apollo 11 was not only an astonishing technological accomplishment but also a deeply human one.”—Ron Miller, coauthor of Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space

July 16, 1969. Nearly one million spectators flock to Cape Canaveral to witness the largest rocket ever built send three Americans to the Moon. Four days later, two step onto the lunar surface. The extraordinary achievement is celebrated around the world. Images capturing these incredible moments fill the pages of Picturing Apollo 11: Rare Views and Undiscovered Moments, an unprecedented photo­graphic history of the space mission that defined an era.

Through a wealth of unpublished and recently discovered images, this book presents new and rarely seen views of the people, places, and events involved in planning, accomplishing, and commemorating the first Moon landing. Starting with the extensive preparations for the mission, these photographs show astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins training for the flight and their spacecraft and stages of the massive Saturn V rocket arriving at the Kennedy Space Center for assembly. They display the media frenzy over the unfolding story and the “Moon fever” that gripped the nation. In addition to both ubiquitous and lesser-known images of the moonwalk itself, the authors present life back on Earth while men ex­plored the lunar surface, as well as the anniversary festivities that paid homage to them in the following decades. Accompa­nying text details each scene, revealing the enormous scale and scope of the activities that went into planning and executing one of humankind’s most historic moments.

Presented chronologically, each picture evokes the electric atmosphere of the time. No other book has showcased as many never-before-seen photos connected with Apollo 11 or as many images covering the activities from the months before to the years after the mission. Most of the hundreds of photographs were selected from NASA archives and J. L. Pickering’s collec­tion, the world’s largest private collection of U.S. human space flight images.

J. L. Pickering is a spaceflight historian and authority who has been archiving rare space images for more than 40 years. John Bisney is a journalist who has covered the space program for CNN, the Discovery Science Channel, and SiriusXM Radio. Together, they have coauthored Space­shots and Snapshots of Projects Mercury and Gemini: A Rare Photographic History, Moonshots and Snapshots of Project Apollo: A Rare Photographic History, and The Space-Age Presidency of John F. Kennedy: A Rare Photographic History.



Kennedy book features Los Alamos’ role in the Space Race

In their new book, “The Space-Age Presidency of John F. Kennedy,” author John Bisney and space historian J.L. Pickering have put together a 224-page, hardcover book featuring 528 rare color photos of President John F. Kennedy.

And not just rare photos, but photos that capture Kennedy engaged in the one of the most crucial missions of his presidency, getting an American on the moon.

Los Alamos residents especially will get a kick and perhaps a wave of nostalgia reading the book, as it features an extensive number of photographs from his December 1962 visit to Los Alamos. Kennedy visited the Los Alamos National Laboratory that December to check on “Project Rover,” where the laboratory was working a small nuclear reactor designed for rocket flight.

The book’s foreword is written by Christopher Kraft, the flight director for all of six manned Mercury missions at the Manned Spacecraft Center. He would later go on to serve as the center’s director of operations and then later as the center’s director.

Kraft recounts what happened sometime in 1961 when National Aeronautics and Space Administration officials let it be known to Kennedy that they had been thinking of sending a manned flight around the moon.

“Why just fly around the moon?” Why not land?,” the president told them.

“The Space-Age Presidency of John F. Kennedy” chronicles everything that happened after that sentence in beautiful black and white and color photography.

Bisney is a former correspondent who covered the U.S. space program for 30 years for CNN, the Discovery Channel, SiriusXM Radio and other news outlets. Pickering s a space-flight historian who specializes in rare images and historic artifacts from the U.S. space program.

Before “The Space-Age Presidency of John F. Kennedy” Bisney and Pickering collaborated on two other books about America’s space program, “Spaceshots and Snapshots of Projects Mercury and Gemini: A Rare Photographic History” and Moonshots and “Snapshots of Project Apollo: A Rare Photographic History.”

In their book about Kennedy, Bisney said the photos already uncovered for the prior two books led them on to see what other photos were out there.

“That led us to wonder what else might be available from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum,” Bisney said in their latest book’s introduction. “Once we realized we had plenty of unpublished or rarely seen material to work with, our goal became to follow the template of our previous two space history books, completed with detailed captions.”

Though Kennedy would never live to see America’s goal of putting a man on the moon, “The Space-Age Presidency of John F. Kennedy” captures perfectly the Kennedy’s engagement with the Mercury program all the way to him personally seeing the first two-stage Saturn I booster being readied for its first, record-setting flight.

Though the laboratory’s reactor concept was not used in the space program, the book features extensive photo coverage of Kennedy’s December 1962 visit to Los Alamos. The book shows rare photos of his speech at Sullivan Field and touring the Los Alamos National Laboratory with then director Norris Bradbury. Many of the photographs feature Los Alamos buildings and landmarks that are still recognizable, such as the Los Alamos Post Office. The pictures are so sharp and clear; residents who were around at that time might recognize themselves along the motorcade route down Central Avenue or in the crowd at Sullivan Field.

“The Space-Age Presidency of John F. Kennedy” and the authors’ other titles are available through the University of New Mexico Press, and can be ordered on line at unmpress.com.

LA Monitor

You’ve Seen The Apollo 11 Movies; Now, Here Are The Books by Emily Carney | Mar 16, 2019 | Apollo, Book Reviews: Non-Fiction as published in National Space Society.


The last six months have brought us two major movies about Apollo 11, and some of its figures: First Man (released October 2018), and Apollo 11 (currently playing in theaters). While this 50th anniversary year will bring many related films, documentaries, and books to the fold, here are five that stand out. While four have either been recently released or are awaiting release, one is a 1970 classic that should be revisited by space fans and those who are maybe just learning about Apollo alike.

Picturing Apollo 11: Rare Views and Undiscovered Moments, by J.L. Pickering and John Bisney (University of Florida Press): Space historian Pickering and journalist Bisney have combined many never-before-publicly-seen photos of the era with text that judiciously explains the entire Apollo 11 mission from training through splashdown and quarantine (and beyond). Space buffs will be thrilled to see rare shots of, say, Michael Collins posing model-like by a simulator, and of course the stunning lunar vistas captured by Armstrong and Aldrin during their short time upon the Moon’s surface.

Pickering has been archiving rare spaceflight photos and images for over 40 years; he and Bisney together have co-authored several books, including Spaceshots and Snapshots of Projects Mercury and Gemini: A Rare Photographic HistoryMoonshots and Snapshots of Project Apollo: A Rare Photographic History, and the upcoming The Space-Age Presidency of John F. Kennedy: A Rare Photographic History. For more rare spaceflight images, Pickering’s Retro Space Images photo discs are highly recommended viewing.

First Man: The Annotated Screenplay, by Josh Singer with James R. Hansen (Titan Books): While the title of this book pretty much explains the bulk of its contents, devotees of First Man the movie and Hansen’s 2005 Neil Armstrong biography (which remains the only authorized biography of the publicity-shy late astronaut) will enjoy reading about the decisions behind keeping certain scenes and personalities within the film.

Moreover, it’s attractively illustrated, featuring scenes from the film and pertinent NASA photos from the 1960s. It’s exciting to read about how actual astronauts and key figures contributed to the movie’s accuracy; for example, Joe Engle – X-15 spaceplane pilot and NASA astronaut, and the only space shuttle commander to conduct a partially manual reentry – was heavily consulted for the film’s X-15 scenes, which Armstrong also piloted before his 1962 NASA astronaut selection.

The Step, by Martha Lemasters (Morgan James Publishing): The Step provides its readers with a different perspective of the Apollo program, one that doesn’t necessarily include all men, wearing the ubiquitous of-their-time NASA-issued American Optical sunglasses, piloting and training for thousands of hours. Lemasters is one of the few women who worked for an Apollo contractor at Cape Canaveral during the 1960s. The Step is her story about her rise from divorced single mother to writer at IBM, at a time when IBM was building and enterprising one of the key components of the Saturn V Moon rocket, the Instrument Unit (IU).

The story of Apollo, its workers, and its unique challenges are told back-dropped by her life’s story, which involves coming into her own as a woman during a time when women were frequently underrepresented (or not represented at all) in scientific fields. Lemasters uses a fine brush to paint a vivid picture of what it was like to be a young, attractive woman in a field that did not attract many young, attractive women, and how a rather demure miniskirt was capable of scandalizing an entire Vehicle Assembly Building.

First on the Moon (2019), by Rod Pyle (Sterling Publishing): Writer and space historian Pyle, who is the editor-in-chief of the NSS’ Ad Astra and authored the recently-published Space 2.0has put together an unmissable journey of a book that explains each step of the Apollo 11 mission, including Apollo’s humble origins. The reader sees how America’s space conquest goes from strength to strength in a short decade’s time, from recovering from embarrassing early launch failures (such as the infamous “Kaputnik”) to achieving one of the world’s greatest engineering feats, putting two humans on the lunar surface with no major failures.

Pyle’s book is also beautifully illustrated, featuring rare photos and helpful diagrams showing each mission phase. What also makes this book distinctive is a chapter looking forward to the future of lunar explorations, featuring the sci-fi visions of artists including James Vaughn. This chapter hearkens to the theme of this year’s ISDC, which is “Back to the Moon to Stay.” First to the Moon is scheduled for release on April 2, 2019.

First on the Moon (1970), by Armstrong, Collins, and Aldrin written with Gene Farmer and Dora Jane Hamblin (Little, Brown and Company): This book was one of the “gateway drugs” that got me into spaceflight during my childhood, and still stands the test of time after nearly 50 years. Its perspective upon the historic mission is still somehow startlingly fresh after all this time, and it captures the personalities of key personnel almost better than anything I have ever read. While it’s championed as “the astronauts’ own book,” we also read about figures including secretary Lola Morrow and astronaut nurse Dee O’Hara. But if astronauts are your thing, you’ll enjoy reading about each phase of the mission in the astronauts’ own distinctive voices.

This volume – and each volume on this list – deserves a revisit (or visit) this summer, as we celebrate 50 years since the signature Moon landing mission.

Photo Credit: NASA, dated May 1969: “The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has named these three astronauts as the prime crew of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. Left to right, are Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot.”


Emily Carney is a writer, space enthusiast, and creator of the This Space Available space blog, published since 2010. In January 2019, Emily’s This Space Available blog was incorporated into the National Space Society’s blog. The content of Emily’s blog can be accessed via the This Space Available blog category.

Note: The views expressed in This Space Available are those of the author and should not be considered as representing the positions or views of the National Space Society.