An international authority on space exploration who wrote the best-seller upon which the Emmy-winning miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon” was based will make several stops in Iowa next week. Andrew Chaikin spent ten years interviewing all 23 surviving Apollo astronauts for his book “A Man on the Moon.”
Chaikin says “I just want to talk about what an exciting time this is now that NASA has a new mission, which is to send humans back to the Moon and then on to Mars. It’s really going to be a grand adventure for all of us and it’s actually already started, of course.” Chaikin was a college intern when he worked on the Viking project, the first space probe to land on Mars in 1976.
As a space journalist, he’s been covering the most recent robotic missions on the surface of the red planet. He says, “We have those two rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, that have just marked their second anniversary of being on Mars, two whole years…exploring that amazing planet.” Following the break-up of the space shuttle Columbia nearly two years ago that killed all seven astronauts aboard, President Bush declared NASA’s new mission would be to focus on a return to the Moon as a warm-up for a manned Mars mission.
Chaikin says the robotic mission underway now on Mars is laying the groundwork. Chaikin says we’ll face a host of technical, psychological and medical challenges before we can safely send people to another planet, but he’s confident it’ll happen, calling it “the great journey of the 21st century.”
Chaikin will be speaking January 11th at the Waukee Public Library, January 12th at the Science Station in Cedar Rapids, and January 13th and 14th at the Science Center of Iowa in Des Moines. For more information, surf to www.sciowa.org or www.andrewchaikin.com.