TLS, one page, 8 x 10.5, NASA letterhead, April 19, 1962. Letter to Kenneth Heuer, the senior Science editor at the Macmillan Company, in full: "Thank you very much for your recent letter and kind invitation to collaborate with Willy Ley in writing a book on Astronautics of the 20th Century. Frankly, there is no subject I would rather write on nor anyone I would rather co-author with than Willy. However, literary pursuits for me in the foreseeable future appear to be listed under 'extracurricular activity,' a very illusive luxury these days. I was interested to hear of your publishing Otto Struve's Astronomy of the 20th Century, as well as Hubertus Strughold's Biological Profiles of the Planets and his Space Challenges Medicine. I will certainly look forward to reading them. Many thanks for your generous invitation. I am only sorry that time will not permit me to indulge in recording rather than effecting space exploration missions." Von Braun adds a brief handwritten postscript: "Don't forget: We have to put a man on the moon in this decade. That takes some doing." In fine condition. President Kennedy's proposal of landing an American on the moon jump-started a space race in which the United States had already fallen behind. Almost exactly one year before von Braun wrote this letter, Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to reach outer space on April 12, 1961. The Americans were not far behind, however, as the advent of the Apollo program was marked by the unmanned flight of the Saturn I SA-1 on October 27, 1961. Preceded by the intrepid missions of the Mercury and Gemini programs, NASA's ultimate goal of landing and walking on the moon came to fruition on July 21, 1969, when the Apollo 11 Eagle touched down within the Sea of Tranquility. From The Bill Lende Collection.
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