Book Tour: Blast Off to the Moon

Publisher: UCLAN publishing

Pages: 40

About: From Imagination to Reality. Produced in association with BIS (British Interplanetary Society) and NASA.

Based on the original NASA Press Kit (Apollo 11 Lunar Landing Mission) this is full of exclusive never before seen content from the BIS archives. Including an introduction written by Helen Sherman, the first woman to visit the Mir Space Station!

Capturing the excitement of the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing, how it happened, why it happened, what the team discovered and what followed on Earth. This is an accessible book for children that will inspire and encourage a love of learning about science and space.

Euan Cook – Cover Illustration

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Q & A with Imogen Tomlinson, part of the UCLAN part of the team who developed this amazing title.

Which chapter/section was your favourite to work on?

‘What if things went wrong?’ was fascinating – macabre, I know, but it really brought home how much courage the astronauts had to take part in such a risky mission.

I also enjoyed writing ‘The World Holds its Breath’. This includes a transcription of the Mission Control audio from the Apollo 11 countdown, which we put in the book as we wanted the reader to experience the excitement of mission countdown. I listened to a lot of recordings between Mission Control and the Apollo 11 astronauts as part of my research – they are available on the NASA website. They provide a fascinating insight into the day-to-day running of the mission, and the respect and trust the crews on Earth and in space had for each other is evident. There are also frequent jokes between the crews. The lead up to Neil Armstrong’s famous “That’s one small step for [a] man” line is surprisingly casual!

 

How important was it to have Helen Sharman write the introduction? 

Massively so. As the first British person in space, Helen is a huge inspiration. Having her blessing on the project gave us – and future readers – the confidence to know that we were going in the right direction and creating a quality product. She also very kindly helped with fact checking – her first-hand knowledge of life in space was invaluable.

 

What would you hope a reader takes away with them when reading Blast Off to the Moon?

How risky and experimental the Apollo programme was. Despite the astronauts undergoing months of extensive training, the whole enterprise was essentially trial and error – no one knew for certain what would happen when – or if – they got to the Moon. The Space Race had already claimed several lives – from Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee (the Apollo 1 astronauts), to Soviet cosmonauts such as Vladimir Komarov. There was the very real possibility that Neil Armstrong, Buz Aldrin and Michael Collins would also be killed. Finding the contingency plan and speech (featured in the book) prepared for President Nixon in the event of a disaster really emphasised how dangerous the mission was. What must have gone through the astronaut’s heads in the days leading up to blast off? How did they explain to their children that they might never see them again? Their bravery and belief in the mission is clear and something to be admired.

 

What was the strangest or most interesting fact you have discovered during your research?

The Moon has lots of interesting facts! I did not realise, before working on the book, how important the Moon is to Earth’s functions. For instance, the Moon’s gravitational force is responsible for Earth’s tides and maintaining the stable environment needed for life.

I found a lot of interesting facts relating to Cold War politics, as this was the driving factor behind the Apollo programme, though we stayed away from discussing them in the book. For instance, the USA once planned to nuke the Moon in a display of power. Imagine how disastrous this would have been!

 

If you were going into space, what would want to have for your breakfast before having to live off onboard food?

Toasted hot cross buns with a fruit salad and a glass of Buck’s fizz to celebrate!

Review

This book is something I’ve dipped in and out of multiple times over the last few weeks; from reading it for cover to cover, to returning to my favourite sections (the food, it’s always about food).

This will be one of those books that grows with a young reader. As a little one, it may just be those never before seen photos that capture their imagination but when they’re older the words will start to form meaning and shape their understanding of the satellite in our orbit.

The book is well structured and will be useful as a reference guide for STEM students or those who seek role models who blazed a trail for any of us wanting to reach for the stars.

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