Team Moon

How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon

Here is a rare perspective on a story we only thought we knew. For Apollo 11, the first moon landing, is a story that belongs to many, not just the few and famous. It belongs to the seamstresses who put together 22 layers of fabric for each space suit. To the engineers who created a special heat shield to protect the capsule during its fiery re-entry. It belongs to the flight directors, camera designers, software experts, suit testers, aerospace technicians, photo-developers, engineers, and navigators. Gathering direct quotes from some of these remarkable people who worked behind the scenes, author Catherine Thimmesh reveals their very human worries and concerns. Culling NASA transcripts, national  archives, and stunning NASA photos from Apollo 11, she captures not only the sheer magnitude of this feat, but also the dedication, ingenuity and perseverance of the 400,000 people who worked to first put man on that great gray rock in the sky.

Awards and Recognition

Robert F. Sibert Award 2007
Orbis Pictus Honor Book 2007
ALA Notable Book for Children 2007
ALA Best Book for Young Adults 2007
Golden Kite Award Honor Book 2006
NSTA-CBC Outstanding Science Trade Book for Children 2007
SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books 2007
Texas Bluebonnet Master List 2008
100 Greatest Children’s Books, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine 2012


“Thimmesh gives names and voices to the army that got Neil Armstrong and company to the moon and back. The result is a spectacular and highly original addition to the literature of space exploration.” (The Horn Book)

“In infectiously hyperbolic prose that’s liberally interspersed with quotes and accompanied by sheaves of period photos, Thimmesh retraces the course of the space mission that landed an actual man, on the actual Moon. It’s an oft-told tale, but the author tells it from the point of view not of astronauts or general observers, but of some of the 17,000 behind-the-scenes workers at Kennedy Space Center, the 7500 Grumman employees who built the lunar module, the 500 designers and seamstresses who actually constructed the space suits, and other low-profile contributors who made the historic flight possible. … Drawn from personal interviews and oral histories as well as a wide array of published sources, this stirring, authoritative tribute to the collective effort that left … footprints, crisp and clear, pressed purposefully and magnificently into the lunar dust belongs in every collection.” (School Library Journal)

“Kids…probably feel they know quite a bit about the first manned moon landing. But until they’ve read Thimmesh’s breathless behind-the-scenes account, they know zip.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)

“This behind-the-scenes look at the first Apollo moon landing has the feel of a public television documentary in its breadth and detail.” (Publishers Weekly)

“This beautiful and well-documented tribute will introduce a new generation to that triumphant time.” (Kirkus Reviews)