240,000 Miles From Earth: Astronaut Edgar Mitchell on the Apollo 14 Misison to the Moon

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© Copyright – Cover image courtesy of Chicago Review Press

Earthrise: My adventures as an Apollo 14 Astronaut

•    Targeted Audience: Middle School, High School (Ages 12+)
•    Genre: Non-Fiction Biography
•    Authors: Edgar Mitchell & Ellen Mahoney
•    Publisher: Chicago Review Press
•    Publication Date: April 1, 2014
•    Binding: Hard Cover
•    Dimensions: 5.5″ x .8.5″
•    Printing: Black & White and Color Photographs
•    Length: 192 Pages
•    Retail: $19.95
•    ISBN: 978-1613749012

I’m not one to generally go out of my way to seek out books about America’s space missions, but I was so engrossed in reading Earthrise: My adventures as an Apollo 14 Astronaut, that I almost missed my train stop. The world around me didn’t exist wherever I was when reading this book; it’s that fascinating and enlightening.

Edgar Mitchell: Born to Be an Astronaut

Edgar Mitchell was born in 1930 in Hereford, TX and grew up on a farm in the Pecos Valley in New Mexico. He was a curious child who was only four years old when he  took his  first plane ride. A barnstormer pilot had to make an emergency landing in the Mitchell’s farm field, because it ran out of gas. After Edgar and his father drove that pilot to gApollo_14-insigniaet more gas, he offered to give them a ride on his small  plane. That experience fascinated Edgar and ignited his desire to become a pilot himself – even at that young age. Soon came WWII and also the Roswell UFO incident, the latter of which happened near his home and solidified his interest in flight and now in space too.

Image of Apollo 14 logo by NASA in the Public Domain

Long, Long, Journey to the Moon

Edgar Mitchell’s personal journey is testament to the fact that becoming an astronaut is not something that 6. Edgar in Jungle 2happens overnight. It’s such a long and challenging road that it requires tireless dedication, an extensive education and an unfaltering desire. In order to become an astronaut, he had to move his family around the country countless times. and be open and flexible to changing jobs numerous times.

In 1946, by the time he was 16, Edgar Mitchell earned his pilot’s license. After getting married and graduating from Carnegie Tech in 1952, he enlisted in the Navy and was a pilot during the Korean War. While in Navy Post-Graduate School, he studied Aeronautics and later earned his Doctorate from MIT in Aeronautics and Astronautics. At last, in 1966 at the age of 36 he began working for NASA. There he worked behind the scenes on Apollo 9, Apollo 10 and Apollo 13 before becoming a lunar module pilot on Apollo 14 in 1971.

© Copyright by NASA – Image of Mitchell in survival training in the jungle of Panama

The Sixth Man to Land on the Moon

1. Apollo 14 Crew Portrait

© Copyright by NASA – Image of the Apollo 14 team Stuart Ross (l), Alan Shepard (c) & Edgar Mitchell (r)

After years of intensive training, Lunar Module Pilot, Edgar Mitchell, along with Commander Alan Shepard and Command Module Pilot Stuart Ross were ready for their Apollo 14 Mission to the moon. Take-off was on January 31, 1971, and despite several equipment malfunctions during flight, Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell stepped out of their rocket to stand on the moon and explore it on February 5, 1971. Mitchell tells the story of the nine-day mission in fascinating detail and with great passion. It’s so descriptive you’ll feel like you were right there in the rocket with him every step of the way. Mitchell shares his life-changing experience of watching the earth rise from the moon and the overwhelming epiphany he had about the universe while returning to earth from space.

Why You Must Read This Book19. Edgar and Alan look at Moon rocks

I’ve never read an autobiography for children that was this riveting, honest and understandable. Mitchell goes into detail about his life and the Apollo 14 Mission, without talking down to readers in  any way. He gets the message across loud and clear that becoming an astronaut takes a great deal of sacrifice and hard work, without being preachy. He educates us about the earth and that flying into space helps us better understand, not only the universe, but our own planet too. He answers many questions Americans have about being an astronaut, how rockets work and how potential disasters are handled by astronauts and NASA scientists while missions are underway. There are fascinating pages of transcripts of NASA recordings from the Apollo 14 mission, so we know exactly what was said between the astronauts and scientists back on earth. Mitchell even goes into detail about space suits, what the astronauts eat and drink, how they sleep and go to the bathroom in space, what is going through their minds during different parts of their mission and much more.  He frankly mentions how his life as an astronaut took its toll on his marriage and discusses the many other ways the Apollo 14. Mission changed his life.

© Copyright NASA – Image of Mitchel and Shepard at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, cataloging moon rocks they brought back from their mission

What This Book Teaches

More than anything, Earthrise teaches readers that if they want to accomplish something in their own lives that is extraordinary, it is going to take a great deal of hard work. There was no luck involved in Edgar Mitchell’s journey to become an astronaut, Rather it was a burning desire, dedication, an outstanding education and a willingness to be flexible and patient. Readers also learn a great deal about NASA and how astronauts are rigorously trained before going into space. They will understand why our space program is important and also why it is crucial that we do all we can to understand our planet and ensure that the earth is preserved so our natural resources may continue to support life. Earthrise is an awe-inspiring read, and adults will get as much out of it as children do; it should be read by all age-appropriate Americans and be on the shelves of school libraries and classrooms.

Further Learning

  1. Check out the extensive resources in the back of the book including lists of space-related websites, museums, organizations, films, and books.
  2. Be sure to read Women in Space, also by Chicago Review Press.
  3. Visit the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
  4. Learn about NASA’s Educational Programs.

 

About the Authors

EdgarMitchell

Edgar Mitchell was a pilot in the historic 1971 Apollo 14 mission and the sixth man to ever walk on the Moon. He is the author of Paradigm Shift, The Space Less Traveled, and The Way of the Explorer, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, three NASA Group Achievement Awards, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. He was inducted to the Space Hall of Fame in 1979, the Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1997, and the Leonardo da Vinci Society for the Study of Thinking in 2011. He is the founder of the renowned Institute of Noetic Sciences and the co-founder of the Association of Space Explorers.

EllenMahoneyEllen Mahoney has worked for Walt Disney Imagineering as a staff writer, contributed many educational pieces for Space Center Houston, and produced radio features for the BBC Science in Action show. She is an affiliate faculty instructor in the department of journalism and technical communication at Metro State University of Denver.

As You’ve Never Seen it Before

Smithsonian Knowledge Enyclopedia: The World as You’ve Never Seen it Before

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The downloadable poster of this book

My home library is full of DK (Dorling Kindersley) books I’ve purchased over the past 20 years or so. They are so informative, colorful and are of the highest quality in every way, including this title I received a few days ago. I haven’t been able to put it down, so I am very excited to share it with you today – on the first day of its publication.

  • Targeted Audience: Upper Elementary, Middle School, High School (Ages 8-15)
  • Genre: Non-Fiction Encyclopedia
  • Publisher: DK Publishing, Division of Penguin Group
  • Publication Date: September 16, 2013
  • Binding: Highest Quality Hard Cover 12.3″ X  10.4″
  • Printing: Full color illustrations
  • Length: 360 Pages
  • Retail: $29.99
  • ISBN: 978-1465414175

Really? Are Encyclopedias Still Being Published?

The truth of the matter is that Googling topics on the internet is not the be-all-end-all when it comes to obtaining precise information. But I sure do trust Smithsonian and DK Publishing to get it all right and put it all together in the most brilliant way.  Many encyclopedia companies have stopped manufacturing physical book volumes of their titles, but a unique, ultra sophisticated version like this one is a welcome sight.

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“The sun is a nearly perfect sphere of hot, glowing gas. Its source of power lies buried deep in the central core, where a nuclear furnace rages nonstop, turning matter into pure heat and light.”

Extraordinary – From Images to Information

DK Publishing used state-of-the-art CGI technology in order to produce 3D rendered images that explore the wonders of the world in unprecedented detail. This involves computer-generated graphics that allow the viewer to see what has never been seen before. It is this very mesmerizing technology that has changed the way movies are made..

Within this meaty book’s 360 pages are six chapters: 1) Space and Earth; 2) Nature; 3) Human Body; 4) Science & Technology; 5) History& Culture; 6) Reference section with charts, maps, flags, tables and a glossary. The useful index will help readers find what they’re looking for quickly.

It takes an entire team of scientists, illustrators, designers, writers, editors and more to complete a project of this scope. I am impressed with the way the book is written, as it covers a lot of detailed, sophisticated information, but in a way that will not overwhelm the children who read it. Nor do the writers talk down to the readers.

I learned so much while perusing the pages, that I cannot even begin to share all that information with you. But if I had to choose my favorite sections, they would be The Big Bang Theory, Insects, Human Digestion and Shakespeare’s Theater.

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“Both in terms of species and sheer numbers, insects outnumber all other animals on earth.”

Three Reasons Why You Must Buy this Reference Book

1) For starters, what is even more fascinating than how truly fascinating this book is, is the fact that it retails for only $29,99! How is it possible to create a book with a plethora of knowledge and visual splendor such as this, (with 360 pages!!) for that price? What a valuable additional this would be to both home and classroom libraries.

2) There is nothing that can replace holding a physical book in your hands, turning the pages and getting so engrossed with the images that your curiosity soars higher than it’s even been before. The difference between learning with a book like this vs. surfing the web is that all this essential information is right in your hands. You don’t have to hunt for it. And because the book is so extensive, you and your child are sure to learn many things you did not even know existed, just by turning the pages. You cannot turn the pages online, and you’re unlikely to find anything for children about science and history on the web that will capture their attention the way this will.

3) Exceptional, sophisticated  books like these are what inspire children to become scientists. I can testify to that firsthand, as my daughter is a college student studying geophysics and just spent a summer doing an internship with NASA.  Her personal library still includes many non-fiction science books from her childhood, and she is not ready to part with those books any time soon.

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“Wrapped around your body like a protective overcoat, your skin forms a barrier between the inside of your body and the outside world.”

Further Learning

  1. Download the free poster and access the Teacher’s Resource Guide.
  2. Have the children choose a section in a chapter and research the types of careers one may have in that field.
  3. Encourage middle and high school students to use this book to come up with a topic for their science fair project.
  4. Challenge children to create a diorama  of one of the 3D images in the book.

If you like this book, you may also like A Day in the Life of Your Body.

All pages and images © copyright of DK Publishing.