24 July 2019

Author shares compelling story of Apollo 8 Moon mission

Arlington Heights Memorial Library

The author Robert Kurson visited the Arlington Heights Memorial Library on July 17. 

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The marvel of space travel took center stage at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library on Wednesday evening, July 17, as New York Times bestselling author Robert Kurson shared a spellbinding account of humankind’s incredible journey to the Moon and the achievement of the Apollo 8 mission.

“Apollo 8 represents the first time human beings ever left home,” said Kurson, author of the critically acclaimed book, Rocket Men. “Apollo 8 was the greatest space story of them all, the most daring, the most dangerous and other astronauts, including Neil Armstrong, agreed with this.”

In a captivating presentation to an audience of more than 200 people, Kurson shared countless anecdotes honed from hours of research and interviews with the three, still-living, Apollo 8 astronauts, their wives and NASA staff. In gripping detail, Kurson outlined the dangers involved and the obstacles overcome by NASA to pull off the amazing feat in just 16 weeks – a staggering timeline as the United States raced to beat the Russians and be the first to reach the Moon.

“Apollo 8 represents countless firsts including the first time human eyes saw the far side of the Moon,” Kurson said then continued, “Apollo 8 was the first time seeing the Earth as an entire sphere, the first time humans looked back on themselves.”

The Apollo 8 astronauts captured this first-time view of our planet in the iconic image Earthrise, “arguably the most important photograph ever taken,” said Kurson. Apollo 8 was also the first live broadcast from space and at the time, the most watched TV program ever viewed by a third of the Earth’s population on Christmas Eve 1968.

Following his talk, and a standing ovation, Kurson took questions from the audience. He then reflected on the future of space exploration as July 20 marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.

“There is something fundamental in humans to explore,” said Kurson in closing. “You need a heart as well as a mind out there. I don’t think you’re ever going to keep human beings away from exploring.”