“… one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” --Neil Armstrong
Prompted by Cold War rivalry with the
Eight years and billions of dollars later, Apollo 11 launched
to fulfill Kennedy’s challenge. The world watched transfixed on
This pathfinder is designed for advanced high school or undergraduate college students doing an in-depth historical study of Apollo 11. Highly technical sources have been omitted unless they offer important historical insight. Most citations focus on Apollo 11, but some general sources on the Apollo program have been included to assist the user in understanding the background and impact of this mission.
Most sources included in this pathfinder can be found in the
Walter Royal Davis Library at the
UL MRC --
Apollo 11 (Spacecraft)
Collins, Michael, 1930-
Manned space flight -- History
Moon -- Exploration
Project Apollo (U. S.)
Project Apollo (
Space Flight to the Moon
Space Flight to the Moon -- History
Sources on the Apollo program often use technical language and acronyms. A technical dictionary might be needed in these situations, and the two listed below are the most helpful and current in this subject area:
Jane’s Aerospace Dictionary.
Although not its main purpose, this source is most useful as an acronym and abbreviations dictionary. It does not contain an entry for the Apollo Program but does provide definitions for many acronyms associated with the program.
This dictionary defines some acronyms and abbreviations and numerous technical terms. Many of the definitions are highly technical and have many cross references. An entry for “Apollo” describes the components of the Apollo spacecraft, briefly discusses significant flights, and provides a statistical summary of the program.
Encyclopedias usually provide general information on the Project Apollo, but some go further and include photos, diagrams, and other special features. The best entries of each type are shown below.
“Apollo.” Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics. Nature Publishing Group/Macmillan Publishers Ltd., 2001. Available on the UNC-CH campus through http://eresources.lib.unc.edu/eid/.
This one-paragraph entry gives a concise and not too technical overview of the manned Apollo missions, the experiments conducted on those missions, and the findings of research on lunar rock and soil samples.
Lewis, Richard S. “Apollo program.” Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. Grolier, 2002. Available on the UNC-CH campus through http://eresources.lib.unc.edu/eid/.
Covering the entire Apollo program, this article provides an examination of the historical context and two paragraphs devoted to Apollo 11. It includes links to additional articles on the astronauts, the Apollo vehicles, and technical terms.
Frederick I. and Mitchell R. Sharpe. “Astronautics.” Britannica Book of the Year 1970.
This article gives a balanced description of the Apollo 11 flight from launch to splashdown. It includes three pictures from the mission and a small lunar map showing the landing site.
Von Braun, Wernher and Frederick I. Ordway, III. “The
First Men on the Moon.” The Encyclopedia
This encyclopedia provides a long feature article on Apollo 11 within its entry for space exploration. The article includes photos from every stage of the mission and diagrams of the space vehicles and flight path.
Any study of Apollo 11 would be incomplete without an examination of the astronauts. While the books shown below contain the most recent biographies, sources in other sections of this pathfinder also provide biographical information about the crew.
Who’s Who in Space: The
International Space Station Edition.
This source contains biographies of the three astronauts, describing their personal backgrounds, NASA careers, and lives after the mission. An introduction briefly discusses the selection criteria used when these astronauts entered the program, and the entry for Buzz Aldrin includes an article he wrote entitled “Landing at Tranquility.”
B. Men and Women of Space.
Each entry lists information about the individual in categories such as family, education, writings, and work experience. This source contains more personal information than others, and because of its format it would serve well as a quick reference on the astronauts.
Numerous federal documents relate to the Apollo program but few held by Davis Library are specifically about Apollo 11. Relevant paper documents are cited below, and other items can be accessed through the electronic sources section in this pathfinder.
Joint Resolution congratulating the men and women of the Apollo program
upon the tenth anniversary of the first manned landing on the Moon and
requesting the President to proclaim the period of July 16 through 24, 1979, as
“United States Space Observance.”
In addition to fulfilling the purposes named in its title, this document describes in typically elaborate language the accomplishments and symbolic significance of Apollo 11 and the entire Apollo program.
Swanson, Glen E. ed. “Before This Decade Is Out …”: Personal Reflections on the Apollo Program.
This book contains interviews with NASA leaders involved in Project Apollo. Interviewees include key personnel working in Mission Control during Apollo 11 and a woman who planned and traveled on the post-flight world tour.
The most valuable insight on any event comes from its participants. Fortunately the Apollo 11 astronauts and members of their ground crew at Mission Control recorded their experiences. The most relevant and significant primary sources are shown below.
Aldrin, Edwin E. “Buzz” with Wayne Warga. Return to Earth.
In this autobiography, Aldrin provides a frank and personal account of his life and career. He focuses on the Apollo 11 mission, post-flight public appearances, and his battle with depression.
Aldrin, Edwin E. “Buzz” and Malcolm McConnell. Men From Earth.
These chapters present Buzz Aldrin’s perspective on the flight of Apollo 11, with descriptions of daily activities in flight as well as the events of the lunar landing. The source also places the mission into the political and social context of its time.
Neil, Michael Collins, and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., with
Gene Farmer and Dora Jane Hamblin. First on the Moon: A Voyage with Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and
Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr. Boston, Massachusetts: Little,
Brown and Company, 1970.
This source provides an in-depth and very personal account of Apollo 11. With the input of all three astronauts, their families, and many other participants and observers, it provides invaluable insight and a broad perspective on the mission.
Collins, Michael. Carrying the fire: an
Focusing on his years in the astronaut program, Collins provides a candid discussion of the training, the Gemini and Apollo missions, his fellow astronauts, and his Apollo 11 fame. His perspective on space flight is unique and interesting.
Failure Is Not an Option:
As the flight director for the lunar landing phase of Apollo 11, Gene Kranz provides a first-hand account of the events at Mission Control prior to the lunar landing. While the language is sometimes technical and sprinkled with acronyms, Kranz’s description of the behind the scenes action -- and close calls -- of this historic mission is revealing.
Many books on the history of space flight contain sections about Apollo 11. The sources selected here draw extensively on the words of the astronauts and have special features such as illustrative diagrams and remarkable photographs.
“All We Did Was Fly to the Moon.” By the
Astronauts as told to Dick Lattimer.
The section on Apollo 11 includes photos of the astronauts, insignia, and lunar surface as well as pictures of newspaper front pages about the flight. Comments from the astronauts describe the development of the titles and symbols associated with the mission.
Bond, Peter. Heroes
in Space: From Gagarin to Challenger.
This chapter on Apollo 11 provides a clear and balanced account of the mission. It includes biographical information about the astronauts and two figures: one of the flight path and another of Tranquility Base.
Harry, III. For All Mankind.
This book presents the story of the Apollo program in the form of a single model lunar mission, describing the flights from launch to splashdown and the astronauts’ lives after Apollo. Extensive first-hand testimony helps the story come alive, but the organization and lack of index make the sections on Apollo 11 difficult to locate.
Launius, Roger D. Frontiers of Space Exploration.
This general work on the history of space exploration is written by NASA’s Chief Historian. While the main section devotes only two paragraphs to Apollo 11, the book also includes biographies of Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong and several primary documents relating to Apollo 11.
Voyages of Apollo: The Exploration of the Moon.
In addition to a summary of the astronauts’ exploration of the moon, this source provides a detailed discussion of the experiments they conducted and the results of research on samples they brought back. The language is sometimes technical, but this book gave the clearest discussion found on the research resulting from Apollo 11.
Lindsay, Hamish. Tracking Apollo to the Moon.
This chapter provides a detailed account of the Apollo 11 flight with extensive testimony from the astronauts and many of the exchanges between the astronauts and Mission Control standing out in purple print. It also includes a number of black and white and color photos relating to mission activities in space and on the Earth.
Reynolds, David West. Apollo:
The Epic Journey to the Moon.
This book tells the story of Apollo 11 from launch through the moonwalk. It includes numerous high quality photos from the surface of the moon and several diagrams that aid understanding of the space suits, the lunar module, and the landing site.
News and popular magazines published many articles on Apollo 11. The items chosen for inclusion below provide the greatest detail and in some cases examine less covered aspects of the mission.
A brief article discusses the political implications of the Apollo 11 accomplishment, the experiments conducted on the moon, and the immediate lessons learned from the flight.
Moon Yields Its Secrets -- Official Findings from Apollo.”
This article summarizes the findings of research on lunar rock and soil samples brought back by Apollo 11. It presents the conclusions on which scientists agree and the questions that remain unresolved in clear and simple language.
Their Own Great Stories.” Life,
In three articles, one authored by each Apollo 11 crew member, the astronauts describe various aspects of their experiences during the mission.
“First Explorers on
the Moon: The Incredible Story of Apollo 11.” National Geographic, December 1969, 735-797.
Most of this issue is devoted to Apollo 11. The five articles provide a detailed account of the entire flight, a portion of the conversation between the astronauts and Mission Control after the Eagle landed, discussion of initial research on samples from the moon, and a preview of future missions.
Giant Leap.’” Newsweek,
Like many other sources, this article discusses the astronauts’ journey to the moon and exploration of the lunar surface. The issue must have gone to print before splashdown because it only mentions plans for the return journey.
“One Small Step - One
Giant Leap: The Voyage of Apollo 11.” The
Reader’s Digest, October 1969, 249-298.
This long article gives a detailed account of the astronauts’ experiences at every stage of the Apollo 11 flight. In addition, it discusses the political origins of the Apollo program, and it examines worldwide reaction to the mission through quotes from people in foreign countries and international newspapers.
“Three Men Bound for
the Moon.” Life,
Three articles examine the personal and professional backgrounds of the Apollo 11 astronauts, covering their lives from childhood through current mission preparations.
The annotated bibliographies shown below cover the entire Apollo program because no bibliographies specifically on Apollo 11 could be found. While locating relevant citations might take some time, these are definitely useful sources.
Launius, Roger D. and J. D. Hunley. “An Annotated
Bibliography of the Apollo Program.” Monographs
in Aerospace History, Number 2. July
This extensive annotated bibliography provides information on print sources that cover aspects of Project Apollo from the politics of the space race to the astronauts, the technology, and the scientific experiments. The sources include books, magazines, and children’s literature on the subject.
Launius, Roger D. and J. D. Hunley. “Project Apollo: A Selective Bibliography of
Books.” National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA
History Office. http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/ap11ann/booksbiblio.htm (
As its title indicates, this annotated bibliography cites general books that cover the Apollo program. Included in a NASA site celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of Apollo 11, it contains a few more recent sources than the previous bibliography and is much shorter.
There are numerous websites, with and without official backing, that give information on Apollo 11. Those selected provide the greatest detail, some unique features, and many outstanding images.
11 30th Anniversary.”
NASA History Office. Updated
This site provides a wealth of first-hand information about Apollo 11. It includes links to relevant government documents, the log of Apollo 11, interviews with the astronauts, and many high quality images.
Lunar Surface Journal.” Corrected transcript and commentary by Eric M. Jones. Copyright 1995. Last
This page provides a transcript and commentary of the recorded conversation between the astronauts and Mission Control from their descent to the moon through their return to lunar orbit. The site also includes extensive background material, many images, and audio and video links.
“The Apollo Program:
Apollo 11 (AS-506) Lunar Landing
This page provides a brief summary of the Apollo 11 flight and links to pages with quick facts and statistics about the mission. The site also includes two pages of images and three videos.
“Apollo to the Moon:
Flight of Apollo 11.” Smithsonian, National Air and
This online exhibition takes the viewer step-by-step through the flight of Apollo 11. The exhibit includes diagrams of the flight path and many images of artifacts ranging from the astronauts’ personal items to the Apollo vehicles.
Pate, C. M. “Where
This website presents memories of Apollo 11 from ordinary people all over the world. Anyone can submit a story through a link on the homepage, but only the best stories are published.
The following page provides quick access to websites about the Apollo program and specifically Apollo 11. The most informative and relevant sites on this page have been included in this pathfinder.
Garber, Steve. “The Apollo Program.” National Aeronautics and
Space Administration, NASA History Office. Last updated
This page provides links to NASA and non-NASA websites and online NASA publications about the Apollo Program. Short descriptions of each site follow most links.
People all over the world watched man’s first steps on the moon live on television. These videos present some of that original footage along with narration that places the mission in historical context and gives additional insight on the flight.
Eagle has landed: flight of Apollo 11. 11 min. 1969. Videocassette. UL MRC 65-V1558
This video shows original footage of the launch, the descent to the moon, and Neil Armstrong’s historic first steps on the lunar surface. Unfortunately the picture quality is poor, and the tape cuts off abruptly before eleven minutes.
Out of this World: The Apollo Moon Landings. Written and produced
by Steve Skootsky.
60 min. Finley-Holiday Films, 1993. Videocassette.
Featuring original photographs and restored footage, this video relates the story of the Apollo program from its political origins through our final moments on the moon during Apollo 17. Nearly one-quarter of the video is devoted to Apollo 11 with footage from the launch, the astronauts' exploration of the moon's surface, and splashdown.
Spaceflight: One Giant Leap. Directed by
Christine Solinski. Written and produced by
Covering the space program from Kennedy’s famous challenge through Skylab, this video places Apollo 11 in political and historical context. It shows footage from each stage of the flight and includes commentary from astronaut Michael Collins.
Send questions and comments to Elise Allison.
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