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This is About - The Moon and other things -

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Katie Mack: I think I do remember the moment when I first understood what space was, and I think I must have been just old enough to read. I found a book at my parents' house and it had a big picture of the Earth on the cover, probably one of the photos from the Apollo missions where they were able to look back and see the entire globe. And I remember looking at that picture and looking at the title, 'The Planet Earth', and thinking the Earth is a planet? I remember that kind of vertigo of understanding that I lived on a planet.

Being a cosmologist really is…although I'd always wanted to do, but it was beat out by the idea of going to space. And when I was in my last year at Cambridge, in addition to postdoctoral fellowships I applied for NASA's astronaut program. Every few years they put out a call for astronaut candidates. I mean, who doesn't want to be an astronaut, right? Who doesn't want to go to space and see the Earth from above? If there was any chance at all I couldn't pass that up. So I submitted the application, thinking that this was the longest shot in the world. And a few months later to my very great surprise I found out that I made the first cut. When I was waiting to hear if I would get an in-person interview, I got the news that Neil Armstrong had died.

News reader: Tributes are pouring in for the 82-year-old, who has died from complications following heart surgery.

Katie Mack: It really hit me hard. It was unexpected. I didn't know a whole lot about Neil Armstrong specifically.

News reporter: They called him a reluctant hero, who always believed he was just doing his job. 43 years ago half a billion people watched through a curtain of black and white grainy images as he stepped onto a rock in space and into history.

Katie Mack: But it really struck me, partly because I knew that my grandfather had a connection to him, I knew that my grandfather had saved his life once.

Robyn Williams: Katie Mack, from our podcast feature This Is About: The Moon and other things.

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This is About - The Moon and other things