About the Book
Son of Apollo: The Adventures of a Boy Whose Father Went to the Moon
Christopher A. Roosa grew up the eldest son of Apollo 14 astronaut and command module pilot Stuart A. Roosa. As a child of the space program, Christopher had a ringside seat at the dinner table of one of twenty-four Americans who had either entered lunar orbit or landed on the moon. The first book written by an offspring of an Apollo astronaut to focus on growing up in that era, Son of Apollo tells the inside story of the life of his father, a man who had a remarkable career despite always believing his air force career was “off-track,” from his initial application to the service to his removal from the prime crew of Apollo 13 and his subsequent assignment to Apollo 14. During the Apollo 13 mission and recovery, Stuart played an integral role in developing the procedures to return the crew to Earth safely. The focus—and the pressure—of the entire Apollo program then shifted to the Apollo 14 mission. If the Apollo program was to continue, Stuart and the Apollo 14 crew would need to get safely to the moon, land, and return.
In writing about his father’s career, Christopher Roosa also shows us a familial side of the Apollo experience, from the daily struggles of growing up in the shadow of a father who was necessarily away in training most of the year to the expectations involved in being an astronaut’s son. Roosa’s story shows the Apollo era was the result not only of thousands of scientists and engineers working steadfastly toward achieving an assassinated president’s national goal but also the families who supported them and lived the missions in their own way.
Son of Apollo: FOREWARD
by Captain Jim Lovell, USN (Ret)
Fifty years after the launch of Apollo 14, the audacity of the Apollo program still stands – and astounds – as a testament to the tenacity and ingenuity of humankind. Stu Roosa and I were among the privileged few who flew those space missions, and both of us made it to lunar orbit, in my case twice. While only 24 men flew those Apollo flights, and “slipped the surly bonds of earth,” their achievement was the result not only of thousands of scientists and engineers working steadfastly towards achieving an assassinated President’s national goal, but the families that supported them.
We astronauts were family men too, and our wives and children also “lived” the missions. Training for Apollo meant the astronauts were away from home days, weeks, even months at a time. They also accepted that our passion for aviation and space meant they would live the highs of a successful flight – invitations to the White House, accompanying us on endless ticker tape parades in towns across America and the world – but also living with the possibility of a tragic and early death for the greater good of the nation. The Apollo kids often went to school with other astronaut kids – including those who had lost their fathers in training accidents that were a crucial part of the program. The moms like Marilyn Lovell and Joan Roosa ran the families during those long periods of time the fathers were away, as they did when we were military pilots. These absences and the background threat of never coming home were undoubtedly part of the learning experiences of the kids, but it was just the life we led. The families not only lived in the constant shadow of absent husbands and fathers; they did all this on the meager wage of a military officer. It’s high time their voices were heard.
Son of Apollo is a timely recounting of that extraordinary, unprecedented era of space exploration. It is told by Christopher Roosa, the eldest son of my good friend and fellow astronaut, Stu Roosa, command module pilot of Apollo 14. Of course, Stu and I trained together on numerous occasions. He was an Air Force guy, and I was Navy, but we shared the same ambitions and risks.
As Christopher remembers, Stu Roosa was originally scheduled to fly the ship that was used on my mission, Apollo 13, the mission which NASA subsequently called a “successful failure.” As a result, Stu’s intense training time in the simulator was instrumental in establishing the procedures that helped get us home.
Stu and Joan Roosa were our good friends. My wife, Marilyn, and I travelled the world both sightseeing and hunting with the Roosas, often with our families, and I came to know Christopher, the author of this book, through those adventures. In 1969, Stu and I took my son Jay and Christopher deer-hunting for the first time.
It’s time we heard the stories of children like Christopher, who intimately experienced that defining era of human and technological achievement. No history can be understood through a singular voice. In Son of Apollo, Christopher Roosa relates the launch of Apollo 14, and the events which led up to and after that historic moment. As children of the space program, Christopher and his young siblings were able to witness from a unique vantage point such events as meeting Presidents, captains of industry and the popular stars of stage and screen who were attracted to the aura surrounding the Apollo astronauts. Son of Apollo provides an intimate account of what it was like to be a child of an Apollo astronaut, whether these are the recollections of a small boy battling school bullies in the ‘60s or a young man exploring the back country of Texas with his brothers. I am grateful Christopher Roosa has given us a view from the family perspective. It is long overdue.
Today, as we move forward with new technologies, and a re-enlivened desire to return to deep space, let us not forget the sacrifices of the men, women and children who helped get us there.
Captain James A. (Jim) Lovell, USN (Ret)
Captain Jim Lovell was the Commander of Apollo 13 along with CMP Jack Swigert and LMP Fred Haise. An explosion on the way to the Moon threated the life of the crew but the mission returned safely to earth in an unprecedented tale of survival. Jim’s book, ‘Lost Moon’ was used as the basis of the movie ‘Apollo 13’. He also flew on Apollo 8, the first mission to orbit the Moon in 1968. He had earlier flown on Gemini 7 and 12, making Lovell the first person to fly into space 4 times.