I am thrilled to announce that the new ebook edition of my first book, Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, is now officially available for sale for only $5.99 from Mountain Lake Press. The direct link to Mountain Lake Press’s sales page is here and on the right. Within two weeks the book will also be available at all retailers, but if you buy it direct from Mountain Lake Press, I will make a little extra money, which would be very much appreciated.
In creating this ebook edition I made sure that all the graphics from the original but out-of-print hardback were included. Valerie Anders, the wife of astronaut Bill Anders, added her own thoughts in a new foreword. I also added a new introduction discussing how the history of space exploration has evolved since the book’s initial publication in 1998. As I noted,
All told, as I write this in 2012 there are more than a half dozen companies building private manned spaceships. Some — like Virgin Galactic and XCOR — are aiming for the suborbital space tourism market. Some, like SpaceX, Boeing, Sierra Nevada, and ATK, are vying for the orbital market, with their customers either NASA, the U.S. military, or a host of new private companies willing and able to put payloads into orbit for purposes ranging from creating private space stations (Bigelow Aerospace) to searching for asteroids (Planetary Resources).
In 1998 none of this was happening, and for someone to suggest at that time that space could be explored by private investment was considered a wild and absurd idea. Yet, that was what I did in my concluding chapter of Genesis, and I am very glad I did.
For that was how the United States was actually built, by private individuals and companies coming up with products that customers wanted to buy, and in the process allowing everyone (both buyer and seller) to follow their dreams to wherever they wanted to go.
At its inception, the American journey to the Moon was conceived by John Kennedy as a demonstration of the power and success of freedom. As Kennedy said in his May 1961 speech to Congress, “We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share.” He also said, “[I]n a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon — if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.”
The lunar program was not built by NASA and the government. It was built by thousands of private companies and hundreds of thousands of private American citizens, working hard to make an impossible dream possible. And the reason these companies and individuals had the capability to quickly innovate a manned mission to the Moon was because they were free and had had the freedom to follow their dreams, to the fullest.
When the Apollo 8 astronauts finally arrived in lunar orbit on Christmas eve, 1968, they themselves demonstrated this freedom by what they did and said. Even now, more than forty-four years later, their words resonate deeply in the American conscience. And those words were their own, not the government’s.
When the head of NASA’s public relations department, Julian Scheer, had first explained to Frank Borman, the commander of the mission, that they would be in lunar orbit on Christmas Eve and that “more people will be listening to your voice than of any other man in history,” Borman asked Scheer if he had any recommendations about what the astronauts should say. Scheer’s response was blunt and to the point. “I think it would be inappropriate for NASA and particularly for a public affairs person to be putting words in your mouth. NASA will not tell you what to say.”
The astronauts, like all American citizens, whether in or out of the government, were free men, free to say or think whatever they wanted. And that is what they did, when they aimed that primitive black and white camera at the stark lifeless lunar surface and talked of creation and the beginning of existence.