tv Apollo 8 CSPAN June 25, 2017 1:15pm-2:01pm EDT
gentlemen who was the first graduate of harvard college. so a biograpy for us which is unusual. >> can you give us background? >> we are the oldest press in the u.s. established in 1848. we are books, news, digital publishing and a book service. >> talking from the 2017 book expo in new york city. and the publicity manager at john hopkins university press. thank you very much. >> thank you. [inaudible conversations]
>> good afternoon, everyone. my name is jennifer, i'm a curator here in the smithsonian's national air and space museum, and i want to welcome all of you and send a quick thank you to our sponsor boeing. i'm hoping all of you are excited as i am. as somebody who watches a lot of things on it's about space, jeffrey kluger is a familiar face to me, certainly. he is the editor at large for "time" magazine, and he's also a local. he's also the author of multiple books on topics on everything from narcissism to polio to siblings. notably for today, at least in the context of this museum, he's the author of two books that we'll bring up, i think,
other the course of this time. first, "lost moon" which he published in 1994 which is the story of apollo 13, of course, the inspiration for that movie. and today he'll be not only talking about his new book, but also signing the book afterwards just outside the gallery if you're so interested. the book is "apollo 8: the thrilling story of the first mission to the moon. welcoming jeffrey kluger. [applause] >> thank you. >> so i mentioned the book "lost moon. " you wrote it in 1994. it's been some time. you do write about space in "time" magazine quite a bit, but storyline, that exciting moment at this point in time? >> the apollo 13 or the apollo 8? >> the apollo 8 book. >> a lot of it came from someone in the audience today, jill, my young adult book editor who has a great book of her own out. she and i were having lunch one day speaking about great yarns, great yarns that could work for kids and work for adults.
and the story of apollo 8 came up. and my feeling had always been and has always been that when the great tale of american history, american space history is written, it will be apollos 8, 11 and 13 that are the true benchmark missions. we all know why 11, first footprints on the moon, apollo 13 was the great tale of survival, but apollo 8 was the first time human beings left the gravity field of earth. we have lived for our entire existence as a species at the bottom of a gravity well of earth. we managed to haul ourselves out of the dirt, get spacecraft -- get aircraft into the atmosphere, spacecraft around the earth. but orbiting the earth is sort of dog paddling in the local harbor. for apollo are 8, it was the first -- apollo 8, it was the first time we sailed across the
true, deep waters of deep space, went to another world. and for the 24 hours those guys were there, they were creatures of another world. they were no longer earthlings. they were moonmen for 24 hours. it was the mission that made all of the landings possible. >> so you -- that story gets at what i wanted to ask about which is what makes apollo 8 special. obviously, for those who were alive at the time, apollo 11was quite special because of the first steps on the moon, but 8 was a dramatic shift in the plan. >> right. >> talk a little wit about what -- a little bit about what made it so special at that particular point many time, 1968. >> 1968, as we know, was easily the most blood-soaked year in modern human history. there was bobby king -- bobby kennedy assassination, martin luther king, riots in the u.s. , riots at the democratic convention, tet in vietnam, more riots in mexico city, paris. the world was bleeding from a thousand self-inflicted wounds.
and then in the summer of 1968 a handful of people at nasa realized there was a way to right the ship of the space program and, as a dividend, sort of redeem the year and redeem the country. remember, this was one year after the apollo 1 fire. nasa had lost three astronauts on a launch pad fire. the dream of getting to the moon by 1970 seemed completely beyond reach now. the spacecraft had to be built from the bottom up. the saturn 5 rocket wasn't working, the lunar module was hopeless. that was nowhere near ready to make a landing. so here we were in the summer of '68, 16 months before kennedy's deadline. and the guys at nasa -- and they were all men at the time, not including the women from "hidden figures" who did such incredible work -- they said we can fix this command module, and if we
do this work and if we do it fast and if we get our guys trained and catch a couple of breaks, we can be in knew far -- lunar orbit in 16 weeks and kick start this program. and they dead it. >> -- they did it. >> it's about the people who put all this effort into it. are they what draw you as a journalist to these stories? these are really dramatic events. talk about some of the people and, obviously, you have three main characters in your book. >> yes. >> tell us about those particular people. >> well, these three guys up here, they are, left to right, jim, bill and frank. i am, i never lose sight of the fact that -- how privileged i am to call jim a friend. i've known him, i've known the lovell family for 25 years now. but all three of these guys in some ways represented something
special and something particular about why human beings travel in space. and that's frank borman, why we travel in space and why we do these ambitious things. they all went into it with different motivations. lovell simply loves nothing more than being in space. he's never as happy as when he's in space, and he was never as happy in space as when he was doing something totally crazy like being on the first crew to fly to the moon. bill anders adores machines. he adores the counterintuitive way a machine like the lunar module worked. he made himself an expert of every little rivet and wire and bolt on the lunar module. now, on this mission he didn't get to fly, so he then learned the systems of the command module. to him, it was taking a machine and making it do something amazing. frank borman is and was a
patriot. frank borman trained to be a fighter pilot. he went to west point. he joined the air force. he wanted to fight in korea. to him, this was his country needed him, and he was ready to fight. he was grounded for about a year due to a burst eardrum. his window of opportunity passed to fight in korea, and when this opportunity to be an astronaut and to fly this improbable mission was presented to him, he knew that this was his chance to fight a very important battle in the cold war. to go out to win and to come home. for him, it was a mission. all three guys knew about the ethical nature of the mission. they knew this was not just for nasa, not just for america, but for the pee cease at large. -- species at large. they were going to make us, homo sapiens, a two-world species. they were aware of that, but they all came to it with different personal agendas. >> and that's ooh actually brought out really nicely in
their mission patch which was designed by jim lovell, really that drawing things together, drawing the earth and the moon closer together by actually having people go there. and lovell and borman had an interesting connection, the fact that they'd already flown together. >> that's -- >> so this is a unique crew in many respects, but in part because they had flown together before. >> that's right. and if you go out into the entry gallery, look at the gemini 4 spacecraft. that was the exact same model of spacecraft that these two guys, borman and lovell, flew in the first time they flew. it is basically two coach seats, and you're wearing inflatable suits so your shoulders are touching. and the overheld is three inches above your head when the hatches were closed. jim and frank lived in that spacecraft without ever getting to open the doors for two solid weeks in lower earth orbit. borman described it very glamorously as a fortnight in a men's room. that's how he described it. [laughter] they joked when they
came home that they said, well, i don't know, maybe we'll get married. [laughter] >> they'd spent so much time together. >> spent so much time together. but if you -- it was a mission nobody wanted. it was this gritty, lunch bucket mission. they did it, they performed it brilliantly, and that crew cohesion was, i think, what made it -- made apollo 8 work so well. they brought in bill anders who was a whip-smart, energetic hot shot in all the right ways, and he just rounded out that crew. >> as you said, he didn't get to command the lunar -- didn't get to drive the lunar module like he'd hoped, but he ended up playing a substantial role even where the story has come today, in his photography. he immersed himself in studying the lunar surface. probably one of the most famous photos ever taken in human history, which is earth rise. i know he's talked about it extensively. you know, and these kinds of things, these stories are covered through lots of academic
histories, through biographies of these -- even these astronauts. and you can see earth rise here. so what is your take on flight that is really -- on this flight that is really new to add another voice to that story. what did you learn that, you know, you can convey in a book that's new for readers? >> well, >> well, first of all, before i answer that, i want to say this is not by accident that this picture is sideways. bill anders, in fact, insists on rotating it 90 degrees because, remember, they were flying around the flank of the moon. so the earth actually rises in a lateral way. now, the lunar surface was below them, so they saw it right-side up, but this is really the way it looks in space. what made this a new experience for me, look, i knew that it was going to be thrilling to write everything that happened when they got into the spacecraft. and my editor, john sterling -- who happened to be my first editor when i wrote apollo 13 --
he said to me i want those guys in that spacecraft by 40% of the way through your book. if you haven't got them in there by then, cut 10%. he's a very smart man, and i worked very hard to the make that happen. but what struck me also was that 16-week window that they had to get this mission out of the planning stage and onto the launch pad. and it was that mono-ma knew call focus that they showed at nasa, particularly in houston to get the systems ready, to sell the necessary nasa saw brass on the idea of -- nasa brass on the idea of doing this. my original very long subtitle for this book was going to be the enengenius, outrageous inspired and insane mission of apollo 8. [laughter] the marketing crew almost hit me over the head with a newspaper and said, enjoy that, because it'll never see print. it was ingenius, and it was
inspiring, and it was outrageous, and it was insane. and yet every single person who was brought into the moon -- into the room for these quiet conversations, every higher and higher level of nasa brass who was told we think we have a way to get to the moon in 16 weeks, they all said you are out of your mind, it can't be done, and then they listened. and then they said, well, i think it can be done. i think we do have the hardware. we just have to fix it. i think we do have the manpower and woman power and human power to sprint to this mission. we certainly have the astronaut personnel. look, borman, lovell and anders were great people for this mission, but chris craft, the director of flight operations once told me, i asked him what is the best pure pilot expect best crew you ever flew, and he said people always ask me that,
and i always say you're going to think i'm making it up, but my answer was always it is whatever crew i'm flying right now, because every crew benefits from what the previous crew did. even if for some reason borman, lovell and anders weren't able to fly, they had these trios of extraordinarily gifted men. they just had to pick the one they felt was right for this mission. >> and we saw an image of the launch of apollo 8, and that's that what's really audacious what they did. this was the very first time that it had been done, and it didn't just go to orbit, it went all the way to the moon. there have been previous launches that went all right -- >> yeah, the first one was perfect, the we could one almost shook itself apart getting to orbit. chris craft, again, a very frank manages he went out to give -- man, he went out to give his post-launch speech x he had a two-sentence statement. this was a disaster. write that down.
disaster. there's no way to fix that and walked out of the room. flp when you see these objects, houses of parliament was what you have done in your research and action will have to wait to talk to the people now using the technology. talk a little bit about sort of what your reactions are coming to a place where we have all of that stuff. >> that's a thing i was never so quite happy about my schedule this morning as to when jennifer said you have an hour. as a great then drag me away from the display. i believe these machines in
these museums are powerfully evocative lease important for a lot of reasons. first of all and think anyone fully realizes the scale of them until you are standing next to them. in the case of the lunar modules, it is, the machine i have always said is so ugly it is beautiful! it is the perfect machine. i can look at pictures of that all day and to stand in the vicinity of it and see this is the scale, this tactile nature even though we don't get to touch it. this is what it would have looked like to be a person engaged with that machine. the apollo -- in the gallery are another example of that you have this leak spacecraft. you have the much more regular looking spacecraft.you have two different machines built by two different empires on two
different sides of the world. empires that were at dagger points with each other. nuclear data points. and yet between them connecting them there is this big lumpy child of seven ton black hardware that served as the docking. it had a port for the american ship, a port for the russian ship. it was the greatest engineering metaphor for global geopolitics. for how you can bring to spacecraft together and in so doing, bring two nations together. to see the hardware is to make it tactile. to make it real. it is the reason i never tire at looking at these. >> we are happy to have you. and a modern manifestation behind you. this is the size of a football field and yet many nations came together to build this thing. and of course "time magazine" actually chronicled some of this
by way of a documentary about one of the more exciting moments of the last few years especially in going to the space station. and the space mission of -- thinking about that kind of two stories together. the international space station, the partnership - how do you see sorted in what you've been doing lately with "time magazine" free articles and research. in the political climate, in the climate of technology sharing or not sharing. and the general public support for spaceflight. come expecting to see this continue? we think that a partnership from the international space station will go forward and take us to the next place great. >> this is one of those questions i actually feel like i can answer optimistically. i think the collaboration will
continue and i think it should continue. part of it is because we are invested in it.17 nations who are, who have collaborated to build this. if you took 17 families and they all built an apartment building and lived together you're kind of stuck with each other. so you better make this work. you put a lot of effort into it. i also think that will serve as a template for future international collaboration. getting spacecraft to mars, getting human beings to mars will be an order of magnitude more difficult than it was to get them to the moon is because the distances are so much greater. if you can bring 17 countries together to do it, you cut costs, you cut time, you will collaboration, you bring special expertise from different groups of people.
also, i was touched by how readily and how poignantly the us russian corporation in space transcends petty politics. when we were over in - and we watched the launch of a rocket at 130 in the morning and the bitter cold steps first of all i could have died happily at that point. >> pretty spectacular!>> yes and as i was in it jennifer earlier, there was such a granular level of collaboration there. there were three astronauts and cosmonauts and a russian flag and an american flag. all the way down to the little details when they gave press conference is a miniature american flag and did miniature russian flag. and when i got there for the reentry, a miniature flag. everything about it is a symbol. everything is all collaboration. cooperation. scott kelly who of course has a twin brother mark kelly, nothing is more defining than his relationship with his twin. he nonetheless calls misha his brother from another mother because of their missions in space.
>> i wanted to bring the "apollo 8" story a little bit. folks have seen a story that popped up there which is the moon as seen by the apollo 8 crew. seeing something like that, seeing earth from that perspective is really something that was brand-new at this time. this was huge. they broadcast this from the moon.on christmas eve. this is a pivotal moment. this is when people are not only to see the earth your photographs later but see it live on their television from 250,000 miles away. is that really, it has helped for us to think about today and terms of how space and the media and the community interact?is
this partnership between the two. i mean nasa's job cannot be done without public support. the medium brings that story to the public. talk a little bit of your role as a writer for the space community and sort of excitement may be that you are helping in part for that story. >> that is something that i like to think about. look, i would love to be in our shop. i want to be an astronaut since i was little boy. i still want to be an astronaut.i always realize though that even as a little boy that i am so ill-equipped to be national. it is just not something i have the brass to do. but to be in the vicinity of that, to orbit around that, to be in mission control, to be there, to be sitting here. marilyn lovell once said to me when we were on this set of the
apollo 13 movie, and again this is when i had already started to feel really close to marilyn and to the family at large. she said something to me that i took exactly the way she meant it. she said look, i have come to believe that jim was born to flight the mission of apollo 13 and you were born to tell that story. and i know she was not disparaging might other things that i have written but that is okay with me. to think that i was a little boy in maryland and my favorite astronaut was jim lovell and the randomness of human beings are sort of like subatomic particles. we just move around randomly and to collide. and if that collision involves my running into jim lovell and making people understand where that story was important. and with "apollo 8" being able
to make people understand that, it is a good day's work. i feel both humbled and privileged to be able to do that. >> and the audience, if you have a question feel free to sit in the back row. before i get into that i want to mention, the crew obviously successfully returned. what happened next? what i mean - they parted ways of course and went to do other things. in the immediate aftermath though, where did their lives take them as far as the crew? >> their lives went to very different places. frank was done he landed. it wasn't like he didn't have a good time, he did. it wasn't like he didn't realize the nature of the mission. he did. but he also know that this was my cold war mission. i'm home from the mission. at the end of the book we have him sort of on the deck of the carrier and he gives his apollo spacecraft affection and walks up and does not look back. he was a man with a patriotic job to do and he did it. bill would have loved to have
gone back into space but he also knew that the byzantine nasa flight rules would have meant that he ever did get assigned to another mission the odds were very good that he would have been in the center seat of the apollo.which would have meant he would have gone out to newman again and still not gone to land and two other people would have landed. he was offered a position to president nixon and then went into private industry and he was very happy doing that. jim lovell, he was halfway to the moon and said baby i'm coming back here. he just knew what he wanted to do. he knew that he traveled one fourth of a million miles to get to the moon and it got within five dozen miles of the surface and he was determined to close that last five dozen miles. now as history proves, as i say in the book, jim lovell who flew on apollo 8 and learned what happens when a spacecraft does
everything right would later learn what happens when a spacecraft does everything wrong. >> sort of on a more personal note for me i was born after apollo. we obviously have lots of people in the audience who do not remember apollo 8 or apollo 11 on apollo 17. the last mission to go to the moon. we were watching the spatial courses international space station still find today. my children wanting remember that except for c discovery out of our building not too far from here. what in thinking about the experiences of those particular astronauts, how does that or how is instructive or helpful for thinking about maybe a premier spaceflight or inspiring new generations basically to think about where they can go? >> there are a couple of things about that. i will just briefly include an
anecdote when december 2012, we went out. my family went out to visit the lovell'sfor the weekend. and jim was taking us to see the spacecraft.or the way over i pulled my girls aside and said ladies, you may be too young to appreciate this right now but this is columbus showing you the santa maria. keep that in mind for later. and they did seem to keep that in mind until they get back to the house and they saw the big shaggy dog and then everything was all about toby again. but for a minute, they had that appreciation. the other thing and you and i spoke about this earlier is that if you look at the three qualities i was talking about with the three astronauts, lovell is a mineral exploration. transport a man of -- those are good qualities to take you into
any career if you are 16 or 17-year-old student looking at future. she can do worse than follow the example of these three guys in planning your own future. >> i think we have a question from the audience. >> good afternoon. i was a college student home for christmas during the apollo 8 mission. i would love to hear your experience of that christmas eve broadcast. i know i wept. it was so beautiful. how did you experience it and even more importantly, how did the crew experience it? >> well, i could light there was way too young to remember but that will be a complete untruth. i was plenty old to remember it. i was a very young adolescent and as a young adolescent man i had already learned one of the rules which is shown no emotions. you are tough. you certainly don't cry over things. i could not abide by that rule. even as a kid. i felt that excitement. i felt tears coming into my
eyes. because i knew that this was something totally different. and when they read on christmas eve, when they read the verses, i didn't grow up in a terribly religiously observant family. i knew what genesis was. he could have been a person of faith, you could have been an atheist. it did not matter. the verse of genesis was beautiful. it is a beautiful first. and what was he speaking of? it was speaking of birth or in the case of apollo were 1968 rebirth, it was speaking about a way to redeem this year. that was not lost on me. i was devastated watching bobby kennedy. martin luther king.both of their deaths. baltimore burned in the riots that followed the deaths. i knew how dreadful, how mortal that year had been. i think it was the ability to
redeem the year and i believe that the astronauts themselves appreciated that but not until they came back. of all of the telegrams, all of the letters, all of the awards. everything they got from leaders around the world. all three of them said that what impressed them and touched them the most was a simple card from someone who their identity still remains unknown. it was a female. a woman that wrote them a card and simply said to the crew of apollo 8, thank you for saving 1968. and i think they felt that it is what they did. you know, they all went back to the rest of their work. to the work that consumes them afterward but they knew what they had done for the world. i think that is a pretty darn good legacy. >> i think there was an element
of surprise there also. to hear religious text coming from a mission because already we were thinking of nasa and spaceflight of being all about science and technology. and the fact that they literally were at another world and they were out in the cosmos, i don't think anyone expected them to convey that particular message. >> right. and if you remember, the famous activist, atheist -- back and threatened to file a suit because it was basically mixing church and state. it was a government enterprise and they read scripture. and the whole world basically said find a different fight. please don't fight this fight. and when frank spoke, they all adjust congress and when he addressed in his talk, the supreme court was sitting right down in front.
and he said you know, i was very happy to be able to read the verses of genesis just a few years the supreme court had ruled prayer cannot be in public schools. and he said but now seeing the nine gentlemen in the front row i wondering if we may be should not have done that. and everyone laughed. because everyone knew yes abiding strictly by separation of church and state of course, that technically broke the rules. but it broke the rules for such a grander good. so i don't think reasonable people - >> incorporated you for your comments. >> thank you. i want to thank all of you for joining us today. please join me in thinking jeffrey kluger for joining us. [applause] >> of course, if any of you are inclined and interested he will be signing books outside of the gallery. thank you for joining us.have a good afternoon. [applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible] >> thank you so much for coming today.
>> report on how low can and moderate income families manage money. and at ten, former speaker of the house and presidential candidate newt gingrich talks about his experiences with donald trump from the campaign through his transition to president of the united states. and we wrap up booktv in prime time with the author of "how to be a muslim." that all happens tonight on c-span2's booktv. [inaudible conversations]