Shoot for the Moon Book Summary By James Donovan

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Shoot for the Moon

Book Name: Shoot for the Moon (The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11)

Author(s): James Donovan

Rating: 4.8/5

Reading Time: 40 Minutes

Categories: Book Summaries

Author Bio

James Donovan is an experienced American author who specializes in popular history.

He has had countless best sellers such as his books A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn, The Last Great Battle of the American West (2008) and The Blood of Heroes: The 13-Day Struggle for the Alamo – and the Sacrifice That Forged a Nation (2012).

James currently resides in Dallas, Texas but has traveled across America to bring some of its most dramatic historical events to life in his writings.

With his latest book Shoot for the Moon-The Remarkable Story of Apollo 11, he's sure to leave readers with a deeper appreciation for our nation's greatest conflict.


In Shoot for the Moon, we explore the incredible story of how humanity first made it to the moon.

As early humans marveled at the glowing white sphere in their sky, they could only dream about what secrets it held and whether there was life up on our celestial neighbor.

All that changed on July 20th, 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the lunar surface and made history as humanity’s first lunar astronauts.

This book tells the tale of ambition and politics, sadness and determination – from the momentous event itself to all the events that preceded it that allowed Armstrong and Aldrin to make history.

Listening to this bedtime biography will give you an amazing insight into how a great goal can be achieved against all odds – now sit back, relax, and let us take you on a journey to our nearest celestial neighbor!

How The Sputnik Crisis Triggered The Us-Soviet Space Race

In October 1957, the United States of America was shaken by news of the launch of Sputnik 1, the world’s first satellite launched by the Soviet Union.

Americans were alarmed to see a 184-pound steel ball easily traversing the sky miles above them, as it questioned their previously held beliefs about the US being a leading force in technology advancement.

To reassure themselves and fight back against the Soviets’ surprising victory in space exploration, Americans immediately responded with a launch scheduled for December 6th.

Though they made an effort to do so on live television, things didn’t work out as planned.

The mission ended in disaster when at four feet up, the rocket exploded resulting in a massive fireball that destroyed its own satellite that had fallen into some shrubbery below.

In this case, clearly the US had much to learn if they wanted to even come close to what Sputnik 3 was capable of -and two months later it was launched by Russians carrying advanced research equipment for greater insight into space and environment above us-.

And then both nations soon competed over who would be first in sending a human being into space under Project Mercury; which eventually led to NASA’s foundation to support US efforts.

Nasa And The Making Of America’S First Astronauts: Risk-Takers And Test Pilots Lead The Way Into Space


In Chapter 2 of Shoot for the Moon, the focus shifts to Wernher von Braun and his role in America’s space program.

Von Braun had led Germany’s rocket program during World War II and was responsible for building the V-2 rocket, a devastating weapon that caused destruction across England and the Netherlands.

When defeat became unavoidable for Germany, Von Braun and his team needed an escape plan.

After securing a meeting with US soldiers, they were quickly whisked away to America to aid in the US’ space exploration effort.

With Von Braun on board, NASA was able to make quick progress in their space exploration efforts.

Among other things, they began designing a spacecraft that could take humans into space (dubbed the ‘flying ashcan’) as well as developing mission control systems which would be used to track and guide their craft through outer space.

Project Gemini Paved The Way For Nasa To Reach The Moon And Beyond

Project Gemini was crucial in helping NASA prepare for their ultimate mission: to land a man on the moon and get him back safely.

This ambitious goal necessitated a lot of preparation, including designing more powerful rockets and more advanced spacecraft.

The Gemini program ran twelve total missions, some of which tested how astronauts were able to operate the complex machinery and maneuver the spacecraft in space.

Other tests were designed to simulate leaving and re-entering from both Earth’s orbit and landing on the Moon’s surface.

The last mission – Gemini 8 – was considered one of the most important projects in Project Gemini as it tested the launch of an unmanned ‘bug’ craft before launching Gemini 8 with piloted by Neil Armstrong and David Scott.

During this mission, Armstrong showed incredible bravery when he managed to wrestle back control of their spinning craft during a moment of extreme discomfort.

Finally, this successful mission proved that it was safe to land on the moon’s surface, paving the way for Apollo 11’s success later that decade.

Man’S Courage And Perseverance Prove Essential To The Success Of The Apollo 11 Moon Landing


Chapter 4 of Shoot for the Moon focuses on the preparation process of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins before the launch of Apollo 11 to the moon.

In order to make sure their mission was safe and successful, each astronaut had to dedicate 14 hours a day, 6 days a week, to training and memorizing hundreds of switches and gauges they would eventually use while on the mission.

Furthermore, they even practiced redocking their lunar module with the Apollo spacecraft in an aircraft hangar with full-sized replicas.

By July 16th, 1969 – launch day – all three astronauts were more than ready for their mission.

With Director of Flight Crew Operations Deke Slayton announcing it was “a beautiful day” and giving them GO status when he knocked on their bedroom doors at 4:15 am – Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins embarked on the historic mission.

Armstrong And Aldrin Take A Giant Leap For Mankind As They Set Foot On The Moon

In Chapter 5 of Shoot for the Moon, Apollo 11 takes off on July 16 and starts the journey to the moon.

After their urine-collection devices and oxygen supplies have been secured and their space suits fitted, the crew buckles up into the spacecraft and begins preparations for the mission.

During this time, ground control goes through a countdown until launch at 9:32 am the same day.

Once they’re 40 miles up, they experience a jolt as they enter first stage mode, then are carried higher by second stage mode before entering orbit in third stage mode.

In order to prevent one side of their craft from roasting in extreme heat, Michael Collins rotates it in what is known as a ‘barbecue roll’.

With no gravity or scheduled nightfall while travelling through space, Astronauts Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins rely on timing of tasks according to body rhythms in order to know when to eat – rehydrating their freeze-dried food packets with hot water – and sleep using sleeping bags secured loosely to objects so that they remain afloat within.

After three days have passed, Apollo 11 reaches its destination: The Moon.

If you’re heading off to bed, I wish for your restful sleep and sweet dreams!

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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