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Celebrating 50th Anniversary Apollo 11 Moon Landing; The Crucial Role of the Third Astronaut; Michael Collins, Astronaut, is Interviewed About the Apollo 11 Moon Landing; Contributions of Men and Women Back on Earth During the Moon Landing; Charles Fishman, Author, "One Giant Leap," is Interviewed About the Moon Landing and His New Book; Kati Marton Talks About The Legacy Of Her Late Husband, Richard Holbrooke And The Political Climate That Fueled That Infamous Blast Off. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired July 19, 2019 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEIL ARMSTRONG, ASTRONAUT: It's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Those immortal words spoken from the moon 50 years ago. And we dedicate our show to the miracle of "Apollo 11." I speak to Michael
Collins, the third man aboard along with Armstrong and Aldrin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL COLLINS, ASTRONAUT: Yes. I felt very much a part of what was going on with Neil and Buzz. I was their ticket home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Then journalist, Charles Fishman, on the massive effort to support the mission.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES FISHMAN, AUTHOR, "ONE GIANT LEAP": The story is so often told from the perspective of the astronauts and I wanted to tell it from the
perspective of this sort of incredible army of people back on earth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: He joins us with his new book "One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us To The Moon."
Plus, Writer Kati Marton talks to Walter Isaacson about the Cold War tensions that pushed these men to the moon.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London, where we are launching a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11
The United States made history at the height of the Cold War, finally beating the Soviets on to the moon's surface. It was an incredible feat of
courage and ingenuity. And it happened because of one of America's most inspiring presidents who said it should. John F. Kennedy made his
legendary moon speech in 1961. A short eight years later, it became a reality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN F. KENNEDY, U.S PRESIDENT: We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other thing not because they are easy but because they're hard.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one, zero. All engine running. We have a liftoff. Liftoff on Apollo 11.
ARMSTRONG: The eagle has landed. That's one small step for man, giant one leap for mankind.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: [Speaking foreign language].
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is on the moon. That's (INAUDIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It was and remains an incredible global inspiration. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first and the second men on the moon.
And people sometimes overlook the crucial role of the third man, the astronaut, Michael Collins, who remained in orbit as his teammates stepped
more visibly into the history books.
I spoke to Collins from Washington's National Air and Space Museum, and he told me what it was like to make history five decades ago.
Michael Collins, welcome to the program.
COLLINS: Thank you very much, Christiane. And I'm enjoying being here.
AMANPOUR: Well, look, it is really a privilege to be speaking with you. You and your merry band of spacemen have inspired the whole world for 50
years now. And I just wanted to know whether you have a specific moment, a specific memory from blastoff to splash down that stands out, especially
COLLINS: I think of all the things that happened on Apollo 11, there was so many of them. I always regard the flight to and from the moon is like a
long and fragile days, the chain of events. But the one that I think that is the unanimous favorite of most space crews is when you see those three
parachutes open. Wow. Up until then you thought you were coming home but you couldn't be 100 percent sure. But you see the beautiful parachutes on
top of the Apollo Command Module and you say, "Here we go. It's OK."
AMANPOUR: Wow, wow. You know what, in a way, I hadn't expected you to say that because it does bring up the whole concept of cosmic death and what
might have happened. Did you think about death? Did you think when you were up there that you might not come back or Neil Armstrong or Buzz Aldrin
might not make it back off the moon into the module and back home?
COLLINS: Oh, certainly. The three of us were keenly aware of the dangers involved but it was not something that we talked about. We never said "Oh,
gosh. Maybe this is getting too dangerous. We shouldn't do it." That was way back in some obscure dark corner of our mind and we had more important
things to do, if not more important, more immediate things to take care of.
AMANPOUR: You certainly did. And obviously, being on the moon, orbiting around as you were waiting for them and conducting your unique and special
mission was unbelievable. And I just want to ask you whether you still [13:05:00] remember that first glimpse, that overwhelming glimpse of what
you described as finally a three-dimensional sphere that was the moon. You talk about it very in detail and poignantly in your book.
COLLINS: Well, I don't know how poignant the view was, but it was certainly an impressive view. You know that tiny little silver sliver that
lives up above my backyard had been replaced by a gigantic, three- dimensional bulb that's staying that was almost trying to push its way into our window. The sun was coming from behind.
So, it was -- the sun's rays were cascading around the rim and it gave it a wonderful illumination accentuating the highs of the craters and the lows
of the (INAUDIBLE) upon which the craters were raised. It was a great thing. However, it was nothing compared to seeing the earth from afar.
That was the main chance. That was it.
AMANPOUR: Oh, wow. I want to ask you about that. But let me first say, you called it, "The most awesome sphere I have ever seen. The belly of its
bulges out toward us in such a pronounced fashion that I almost feel like I can reach out and touch it."
COLLINS: And I believe I added or I should have added it did not give us any feeling of welcome. If anything, it seemed like perhaps a slightly
hostile place, at least to me.
AMANPOUR: Obviously, everybody has spoken to you and asked you about what it was like not to walk on the moon. That you were the one still up there
orbiting and you didn't get a chance. But I find it so cool that the way you talk about it is you that celebrated this unique position you were in
to be able to kind of manage the whole thing and get them back safely and land them safely and all the rest of it.
Tell me a little about how you saw your mission, even though you didn't step foot on the moon.
COLLINS: Well, the question that is usually asked me is "Were you not lonely? The loneliest person who had ever been on a lonely voyage around
the moon and the lonely orbit. You were isolated and your lonely thoughts. Weren't you terribly lonely?" And I was just amazed by that. I said, "No,
I was no way lonely. I felt very much a part of what was going on with Neil and Buzz. I was their ticket home. The whole apparatus, the
procedures, the machinery had all been put together to be worked by three people.
And the third that I had, I didn't -- clearly, I did not have the best seat on Apollo but I was delighted to have the one that was the culmination of
John F. Kennedy's dream to put someone on the moon by the end of the decade.
AMANPOUR: What was it about John Kennedy's promise that impacted you so much? His dream of, as he said, sending a man to the moon and bringing him
COLLINS: Well, I thought of that a great deal. I thought that was a masterpiece of simplicity. President Kennedy had told us what to do and
when to do it, and we had to fill in the how do it. But as we went along that path toward the liftoff, the last few years of preparation, his words
rang and they helped us immeasurably.
We could say, "Hey, you better get work." And John F. Kennedy said, "The end of the decade is coming and we're behind here and we got to do a better
job than the other place." It was a wonderful assistant to us in our preparations. I thought of it a great deal.
AMANPOUR: Yes. I can imagine you did. Just going back to your position and your unique position during the moon landing. You gave a first
interview to the great Walter Cronkite when you came back. And this is what he asked you and your answer to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER CRONKITE, AMERICAN BROADCAST JOURNALIST: I had like to ask one of the small personal questions. Are you going to get tired of hearing them
talk about walking on the moon before these series of chores is over?
COLLINS: Not at all. I'm going to enjoy it very much. I -- as you know, I was over on the backside of the moon for half their walk and I kept
coming around the front side, you know, with the -- when they say, what are they doing attitude, and I'm very happy to have them fill me on those
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Again, I think that's so really interesting way of putting it. And I just want to know where you were, what side of the moon were you on
when [13:10:00] they took their first steps and when Neil Armstrong said, you know, "one small step, one giant leap"? Did you actually hear that in
COLLINS: Yes, I did hear that. I -- you know, 50 years is a long time to remember each and every detail on where I was. I was in a two-hour orbit
around and around the moon. And I got some of what was said on the surface by the two of them and other bits and pieces of it I missed.
But the parts I missed mission control was constantly yakking in my ear. So, I knew pretty much what was going on at all times.
AMANPOUR: You said a moment ago that one of the most dramatic sights was the sight of the earth from space. That you found it just an incredible
vision. Let me first play you what Neil Armstrong said about it and then I want to ask you how you felt about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could you describe what you're looking at? Over.
ARMSTRONG: You're seeing earth, as we see it, on our left-hand window. Just little more than a half. We're looking at the Eastern Pacific Ocean
in the north half of the -- top half of the screen. We can see North America, Alaska, United States, Canada, Mexico and Central America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So. that was Neil Armstrong's observations. You also talked about this blue and white sphere and you wrote in capital letters that the
earth looked fragile. Tell me about that.
COLLINS: At the time, I was really not able to explain that to myself. I know we're the third rock out from the sun. I felt an overriding quality
of fragility about the earth as I looked at it. I can remember somewhere along the line, I said, "Hey, Houston, and I've got the world in my
window." And I'm very conscious of that. And I think that's a feeling, the world in your window, your window, Christiane, everyone's window, to
have the world in your window and you examine that little sphere critically and see how is it? How is your healthy today? How are you feeling today,
world? Are you okay? Are you fragile? What kind of fragility are you suffering from? Can we help you? Can we do anything about it?
AMANPOUR: And, you know, it's interesting because that is front and center of so many people's minds now, how to save our planet, how to save our
world. And when you were up there, there were only 3 billion people on planet earth. Now there's nearly 8 billion people.
Do you worry about the state of our world? What message, as somebody who has seen it up there, would you give to world leaders?
COLLINS: Well, I do, in fact, worry about our population. 8 billion, as you say, and before we know it, there will be 10 billion and that is 10
billion people who are going to be using plastic cups which are going to get thrown into the ocean and shredded on the rocky bottom and ingested by
fish who die and float to the surface. So, that's the kind of maritime situation that we face.
And when I think of fragility, I think of little tiny pieces of plastic and a myriad of other horrible things that we daily do to trash this planet of
ours and it bothers me a lot. Yes, it does.
AMANPOUR: I bet it does and it bothers a lot of people. And you're in a unique position of authority to warn us about the fragility of our world.
Can I ask you how you got on? What was your relationship with Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, not just during the four or five-plus-day mission, but
preparing for it? What was your relationship like?
COLLINS: Our relationship during our training was that of what I once described as three amiable strangers. I didn't mean that as a criticism of
Neil or Buzz, but simply that we were named to be on the crew with a scant six months to get prepared for it and we were all business. We felt like
we were behind. We felt we had the weight of the world on our shoulders.
So, we were pretty much amiable strangers, you might say. After [13:15:00] the flight of Apollo 11, I really got to know Neil Armstrong a lot better,
and he was impressive. Neil was a very intelligent man and he had a scope of interest, that far left, far right and around the middle of the
technology that we were all three involved with.
He was the student of history, primarily a history of science. Wherever we went, he was our spokesman. When we went on our around-the world-trip
after our flight of Apollo 11. And I think we visited something like 29 cities. And so, he made 29 speeches and he was masterful at it. He was a
wonderful spokesman. He made people feel so much a part of it. Everyone where we went people said "We did this thing." And part of that was seeing
Neil up close.
COLLINS: But I think that's his legacy is, "Hey, we did it. We human beings left this stinky little planet and went elsewhere." And that's what
I remember the most about Neil. He was a wonderful choice to be the first person to walk on the moon.
AMANPOUR: That's so gracious of you. And sad that he is not around to celebrate the 50th anniversary. And to that point, I just want to read you
an excerpt from a standby letter that President Nixon had. He obviously congratulated you from the Oval Office, but there was also a letter, in
case you didn't make it home. And he wrote "Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in
peace. These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they know that there is hope for mankind
in their sacrifice. For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come, will know that there is some corner of another world that
is forever mankind."
And you've spoken so eloquently just now about the mission, about what it means. What would have happened, Mike Collins, had you been in the orbiter
and they hadn't made it? Would you have gone back? I mean, people asked you this before. You would have returned to earth, right?
COLLINS: That's correct. I had no landing gear on my machine. I couldn't go down and help them in any way. So, the choice was to commit suicide or
come home by myself, and I would have come home by myself. It would not have been a happy trip and I knew I would be a marked man for the rest of
my life if that should ensue, but those were the choices.
AMANPOUR: Wow. It's so stark. And so, I want to play this really very, very amusing picture, which is you're all in quarantine just after you
splashed down. President Nixon visiting the three of you in quarantine. He's applauding you from behind a small very tough piece of glass and there
you are smiling out. Your wives came and saw you in quarantine. And you had to spend three weeks there in case of moon germs. And you've said,
frankly, that that was pointless. Why was that pointless?
COLLINS: No, I don't recall that I said it was pointless. I perhaps said it was pointless that our colony of white mice was so large. At the time,
I had been reading a book by John Steinbeck, "Of Mice and Men," and I got thinking about that. Oh, the three of us had gone to the moon and come
back. And there we were. And that was either a wonderful achievement or the worst tragedy that this poor planet had ever seen, depending on whether
we brought any deadly pathogens back with us or not.
Now, if the white mice were happy, there were a bunch of them, maybe 30 of them. 30 little guys were scampering around. And if they were happy, we
were happy. If they started dying, oh, oh, oh. So, when I consider Steinbeck and "Of Mice and Men," my conclusion is the mice are more
important than the men.
AMANPOUR: Well, Michael Collins, what a great way to end and congratulations.
COLLINS: Well, thank you, Christiane. Take care of London.
AMANPOUR: I will. And you take care of our world.
COLLINS: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: On the way home from the moon, Collins stopped to thank the massive army of ordinary mortals on earth who also made this happen.
Broadcasting this message of thanks from space.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: This operation is somewhat like periscope of a submarine. All you see is the three of us. But beneath the surface are thousands and
thousands of others. And to all those, I would like to say thank you very much. [13:20:00]
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And to explore this extraordinary accomplishment, I spoke to journalist, Charles Fishman, who is revealing the incredible contributions
of the men and women on earth, in his book "One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon.
Charles Fishman, welcome to the program.
FISHMAN: Thank you so much for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, there we have Mike Collins, a little snippet from that moment 50 years ago when he actually did acknowledge that it wasn't just
the pretty faces out there but that it was a whole lot more. What do you make of him saying that?
FISHMAN: You know, the story is so often told from the perspective of the astronauts and I wanted to tell it from the perspective of this sort of
incredible army of people back on earth. But the first people to tell you that there were tens of thousands of people who made this possible, were
the astronauts in the moment it happened.
In fact, NASA did a very smart thing, which was that it had astronauts visit the factories where the computer was made, where the space suits were
sewn, where the command module was put together, where the lunar module was put together. Not just as a PR move, not just to fly the flag, but so that
those folks identified with the mission itself. Here is the people who are going to be flying to the moon. And also, so that the astronauts could
understand the work that went into this.
And so, there was a real connection even in the '60s, as the missions were going off, between the astronauts themselves, the big celebrity public
face, you might say, and the actual factory workers back in -- back on earth making it happen.
AMANPOUR: So, Charles, you really do detail an extraordinary, you know, depth what they did. And I'm going to get that -- get there in a second.
But let's just start with the context. Let's start with President Kennedy's exaltation back in 1961 about having to do this. This is what he
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENNEDY: First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal before this decade is out of landing a man on the moon
and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind or more important for the long-
range exploration of space, and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Was it really just to discover the moon or was it because of the context of the time?
FISHMAN: Look, when he gave that speech, the Russians were quiet literally crushing the United States in space achievements. The first spacecraft of
any kind, that was "Sputnik." The first creatures, the first animals sent to space. The first animals sent and recovered safely back on earth. The
first astronaut, that was Yuri Gagarin. The first spacewalk. The first probe that went to the moon. The first probe that photographed the far
side of the moon. The first female astronaut. The first spaceship with two people in it. The first spacewalk when a cosmonaut left the spaceship.
The Russians did everything first.
And Kennedy was -- Kennedy said to his staff, "Coming in second in space is the same as losing. And I don't think we should be losing." He was very
frustrated. This was for President Kennedy not really about the romance of discovery and the sort of human aspiration and all the technological
benefits and engineering benefits from doing something all but impossible. For John Kennedy, this was a Cold War battle. And he knew the only way --
he was told, in fact, the only way to impress the world that we really were first, that the United States was first was to go to the moon.
Later that same year, in a private meeting that he recorded secretly, he had a secret taping system in the White House, he said to his senior NASA
staff, "I want to be really clear. The number one priority is beating the Russians. Therefore, if it has to do with going to the moon, I'm for it.
And if it isn't about beating the Russians to the moon, you can do it six months later."
AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, it is an amazing thing. But I guess -- I mean, OK, the president said it but was the United States, was NASA prepared?
FISHMAN: No, not at all. In fact, when Kennedy said, "Let's go to the moon," it was just the opposite. There was no rocket big enough to go to
the moon, no lunar lander, no spaceship that could land on the moon. There was no computer small enough or powerful enough anywhere in the world to
fly a spaceship to the moon.
There was, at that moment, in fact, this remarkable argument inside NASA about whether human beings would be able to think in zero gravity. Would
your brain [13:25:00] work in space? And, of course, it would have been a lot harder to go to the moon if your brain wouldn't work.
And so, when Kennedy said, "Let's go to the moon," it was quite literally impossible. The senior NASA officials had said to the president, "If you
announce this, we think there's a 50/50 chance we can do it." And what -- I think part of Kennedy's leadership was he knew that simply announcing it
would dramatically change the odds.
And so, was really a kind of mad innovation festival for eight years. Innovation on a deadline to get the work done by 1969. It was -- this
project was really all those images we have today of Silicon Valley, people working all the time, that's what this was in 1965, in 1967 and 1969.
AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, there were nearly half a million Americans working on this. And it's one of the largest programs ever, nonmilitary programs
in the history of civilization, as you say. But let's talk about the details you focus on. Let's take the space suits first because I think
that's a really fun story.
FISHMAN: So, the space suits had this remarkable task. They were really balloons. They had to carry, you know, the atmosphere of the earth or
something like it for the astronauts, but they -- and they had to be strong. They had to be able to withstand the strike of a micrometeorite
going 36,000 miles an hour.
But as -- you know, as NASA insisted in its requirements, they also had to be flexible. You had to be able to get on the moon and do your work. You
could make a kind of tank-like suit that would protect you but you wouldn't be able to move in it. And this turned out to be really, really hard. And
in the end, the company that NASA picked was Playtex, the maker of bras and girdles. The maker of the famous "cross your heart bra" of the mid1960s.
And Playtex literally used not only its expertise in making form-fitting garments that had to be flexible, there were in the space suits, layers of
material that were exactly the same as the material in Playtex bras and griddles. They actually did a brilliant job. The space suits are a
perfect example. The space suits were 21 layers.
FISHMAN: And that's the (INAUDIBLE) each other. And they were sewn by hand, by women that Playtex brought over to its industrial division from
making bras and girdles to do this sewing. Every stitch had to be perfect. Every stitch was counted. And it's kind of remarkable to imagine that that
work was done by hand. And of course, the space suits, they not only turned out perfectly. Playtex renamed that division during the race to the
moon ILC, International Latex Corporation. That company still makes all of NASA's space suits.
AMANPOUR: Oh, my God. I was going to ask you that question. Is it still Playtex or now you said it's derivative that still makes? That is pretty
incredible. But let's get back to some of the details. I mean, I love the Playtex story. I want to say, you know, women to the rescue again,
Charles. But they also -- didn't they also really, really, really work hard on getting the computer program? I mean, they hand stitched or weaved
the actual computer lines. Tell me about that.
FISHMAN: Look, I think the computer that flew the spaceship to the moon is really one of the best and least told, least understood stories. When
Kennedy said, "Let's go to the moon," in May of 1961, a small computer was the size of three or four refrigerators lined up next to each other. That
was a small one. NASA could not send even one refrigerator to the moon.
And so, MIT was hired, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was hired to design the computer that could fly these spaceships to the moon and then
write the programs for it. And NASA knew how hard a project this was going to be. And MIT did incredibly pioneering pathbreaking work. They
concluded that the only way to build a computer small enough to fly to the moon was to use an all-new technology called integrated circuits, computer
The Apollo spaceflight computer was the first computer anywhere to use what really is, you know, common place. Now, you could find them in greeting
cards, computer chips. The first computer chips in the world.
In fact, NASA bought most of the computer chips, more than 60 or 70 percent of total world production four years in a row for its computers. And they
taught the semiconductor industry, how to make computer chips small, how to make them fast, how to make them perfect. How to make them so reliable,
that there was no chance they would fail.
In fact, MIT bought computer chips by, you know, in lots of a thousand, in orders of a thousand. And they tested them before they started using them.
They had 10 tests to make sure they would survive, you know, being launched in a rocket, all the temperature ranges that going to the moon would
require -- all kinds of things. If even one chip in an order of a thousand, failed one of the 10 tests, NASA sent the whole lot back.
The result was the smallest, fastest, most nimble computer that had ever been created. It was not much bigger than a briefcase and much, much more
powerful, much faster than the three or four refrigerators lined up.
And that really laid the foundation for modern computing, but just like with the spaceships. We didn't really have great computer memory
technology -- manufacturing technology -- at that moment.
And so, it is almost hard to believe, but every one in zero in that Apollo spaceflight computer, every single circuit was woven by hand by former
textile workers. They worked in a Raytheon factory in Waltham, Massachusetts, and it took two dozen women eight weeks to weave the memory
for one computer.
They were actually weaving the programming -- the programming, the actual programs -- so even one wire out of place meant some part of the computer
wouldn't work right. The work had to be absolutely perfect.
And in fact, the computers were perfect. They never had a failure in all of the missions. Not one thing ever went wrong with one of the computers.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST, AMANPOUR: It is remarkable. And what about the parachute story? Because we all know that they need the
parachute in the last descent, you know, as they are going into the sea, and there were three parachutes, and the people who made and folded them
and maintained the parachutes were treated like that, you know, gold bullion?
FISHMAN: Well, again, another one of these hidden little moments tucked away, the parachutes, too, were sewn by hand, which is just remarkable.
Each parachute was 7,200 square feet. In the U.S. that would be -- each parachute was -- it had as much space as the floor space in three average
American homes, all sewn by hand and then they were folded by hand.
And of course, you're right, they were completely indispensable, right at in the last 15 minutes of the mission. You could go all the way to the
moon for eight or 10 days and come home, but the last 15 minutes really mattered.
And in the U.S., parachutes that have responsibility for human lives, if you're skydiving, if you're in a spaceship, the F.A.A. licenses the people
who fold those parachutes and so, there were three people -- only three people in the whole country trained to fold Apollo parachutes trained in
licensed by the F.A.A., and yes NASA, two men and a woman in California, and they folded all the parachutes for all the Apollo space missions.
NASA forbid them to ride in the same car at the same time, because it feared them being in a car accident and they were too valuable to have them
all sidelined at once. Kind of an amazing little rule.
AMANPOUR: It really is. So, let's fast forward now because this is 50 years. There were other moonwalks. What exactly do you think this has
FISHMAN: First, I think it's really important on the 50th Anniversary of this first moon landing, we ended up last on the moon six times. The last
three of those, we sent an electric car, a kind of moon dune buggy, the Lunar Rover, which completely transformed the experience of exploring the
moon, understanding the moon, and just -- so it brought a lot more scientific range, but also it made moon exploration fun.
So, it was an incredible achievement, and we got a lot out of it. Let's remember one thing we got out of it was it completely changed human
understanding of how the Earth was formed and how the moon was formed. It absolutely, unquestionably inspired an entire generation, thousands of
people went on to become scientists and engineers and computer scientists, because of being inspired by this mission.
I think it had a really important historical impact which it gets absolutely no credit for, which is that that computer -- the computer that
flew the command module and the lunar module that really paved the way for the Digital Age. It didn't open the Space Age, it opened the Digital
[13:35:07] FISHMAN: The world we live in can trace its roots back to that decade and the work that was done on those computers, it accelerated the
Digital Revolution dramatically.
And it also changed the popular attitude about computers. We spent 10 years watching people use computers to do the hardest thing that could be
imagined -- fly people to the moon.
So, obviously, computers could be useful. And if you were going to run the elevators in a skyscraper or run a chemical factory, you could probably
depend on computers to do it. After all, they were good enough to go to the moon.
So I really think NASA and Apollo and the race to the moon do not get anywhere near the credit they deserve for helping lay the foundation for
the computer revolution.
What's exciting now to me is the commercialization part. It is Elon Musk and SpaceX, and Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin. Those guys are trying to
create the Southwest Airlines of space travel. And I say that with all respect. They are trying to create the ability for ordinary people to go
live and work in space safely, reliably, and inexpensively.
When that happens, there's a whole wave of people who can't wait to unleash a kind of space economy. I think we are on the verge of that Space Age
that was sort of often pictured in cartoons and TV shows in the 1960s.
Right here near to Earth, I think 10 or 15 years from now, there's going to be a kind of internet style boom because Bezos and Musk are trying to make
launches that used to cost $100 million just five years ago, they want to make them a million dollars. And when that happens, the world of what can
be done in space will be dramatically transformed.
AMANPOUR: Well, this is extraordinary. Thank you so much for the story of what went into Apollo 11, and as you've just concluded, everything that is
possible because of it.
Charles Fishman, thanks for joining us.
FISHMAN: Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, as you heard there from Charles Fishman, the success of NASA's Apollo missions to the moon was driven by the Cold War between the
United States and then Soviet Union. And the Soviets had made many milestones before the USA got there.
Our next guest grew up in communist Hungary at that time, but she was forced to flee to America when her parents who were journalists were thrown
Our Walter Isaacson spoke to author and journalist, Kati Marton, about that pivotal time about the legacy of her late husband, the legendary diplomat,
Richard Holbrooke, and about the political climate that fueled that infamous blast off.
WALTER ISAACSON, PRESIDENT, ASPEN INSTITUTE: Kati, welcome to the show.
KATI MARTON, AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST: Thank you, Walter. Delighted to be here.
ISAACSON: We're talking about the anniversary of the moon landing, where were you when you first found out?
MARTON: So I was a teenager. I was watching. I was gathered in front of America's hearth, which was Walter Cronkite, and CBS Evening News, my
parents' ritual, and we sat there and we were relatively new arrivals to this country. I did not speak English as well as I think I speak now. And
we watched with all the pride of new Americans.
And when Uncle Walter removed his glasses, we knew that this was a historic moment and that he was as moved as we were because the only other time he
had done that was on November 22nd, 1963 -- JFK's tragic death.
And that was such a memorable moment and I was proud to be an American.
ISAACSON: It was interwoven with the Cold War.
ISAACSON: And in our competition with Russia, and more than anybody I know, you have a family history that deals with the Cold War starting with
MARTON: Yes. Unfortunately, sometimes I think, a little too much history. But yes, I am a child of the Cold War. My parents were in an active state
sponsored terror. My parents were arrested when I was six years old on fake charges. They truly were fake charges of being C.I.A. agents.
They were -- my mother and father were the last independent journalists behind the Iron Curtain.
ISAACSON: In Hungary?
MARTON: In Hungary, in Budapest, yes. And I did not see my dad for almost two years and my mother for a whole year and we were not well-known at all,
but the story of my parents arrest was front page news, especially "The New York Times" and as a result, the State Department made all nonessential
travel to Hungary prohibited.
[13:40:04] MARTON: So, as a way to pressure the communist government of Hungary to release my parents, the result of this coverage of my sister and
me as being kind of political orphans with offers to adopt us by you know, sort of average readers of American newspapers. And when we finally made
it to these shores, we came on a refugee plane and we landed in an Army base on the New Jersey Turnpike -- Camp Kilmer.
And the Marine who processed me, a little tyke, noticed that it was my birthday. And from some place, he produced a silver dollar. And by the
end of the day, I had six silver dollars, which my mother kept. I wish I knew where she put it because I can't find it.
We were then sped with motorcycle escort to a hotel in Manhattan, where they -- my mother and father -- each were given a George Polk Award.
Cameras popping and you know, just looking up and everybody looking down at us. We were the model refugee family. Handsome father, pretty mother,
pregnant and two little girls. And everywhere we went, we had photographers following us because we became sort of the poster family for
So, that was my first introduction to this big hearted, generous, welcoming land, which it was then.
ISAACSON: So your parents got arrested, labeled enemies of the people. They would journalists for the Associated Press back in Budapest.
MARTON: My father, the Associated Press. My mother, United Press International.
ISAACSON: What did they write that caused this?
MARTON: You know what, Walter, they were just good reporters. They wrote the news of the day, which was generally bad news, because as Hungary was
slowly becoming a Soviet satellite after the end of the Second World War, priests and nuns were being arrested. Newspapers were closing.
People who had quote, unquote, "bourgeois" background were losing their jobs and it was becoming a terrorist state. And my parents kept doing
this, despite the fact that they knew they were targeted.
ISAACSON: So, you arrived in the United States in 1957, just as Sputnik has gone up. When did you become aware of the divisions in American
society? That it wasn't just a paradise here?
MARTON: You know, when we arrived, we were so completely stunned by everything that was coming our way. None of us in my family had ever been
to the United States. I didn't speak English. My parents were fresh from jail. My mother was pregnant. We had so much to learn. And we really
just applied ourselves to coping as refugees do.
I was put in an American school, and you know, sink or swim. It was quite a while before I realized that it wasn't just on merit that you made your
way in this country and particularly as a girl, and I was always an ambitious girl. I wanted a big life. I wanted to be a journalist.
There were very few role models in those days. I'm now talking about the 70s when I was starting out in the news business. There were two role
models. One of them was Barbara, and the other was Leslie, as in Walters and Stahl.
ISAACSON: And you became a correspondent and producer for a network television.
MARTON: Yes. I was Bureau Chief for ABC News in Germany. And to say that sexual harassment was endemic is an understatement. But we didn't have a
term for it. So, you just struggled with that and made your way by being good.
But that was a bigger struggle than any other that that I faced to be a woman in in the 70s with big ambitions was a great challenge.
ISAACSON: As part of your experience of the Cold War. It happened that your dinner table, suddenly your parents and you are totally disagreeing on
[13:45:07] MARTON: On Vietnam.
ISAACSON: Your father can think that nothing America does can be wrong, and we were fighting that Cold War battle at dinner tables.
MARTON: Yes, yes. No, it was pretty upsetting. It was the first time that my father and I were really at odds, because he felt that, well, that
America was the nation that could do no wrong. And that the war in Vietnam was just another extension of the Cold War, another battle, just as the one
that he was fighting in Hungary.
And it wasn't. It was far more complicated. As my husband, Richard Holbrooke was finding out in the Mekong Delta, this was a different kind of
war. It was a guerrilla war.
And I was, you know, I was by then in high school and kind of a wise guy and making my own judgments. And we really had some fractious times, and I
don't think my father ever admitted that it was a mistake to have sent so many, obviously, he didn't want people to die there. But he felt that it
that it was mishandled and a good cause, a just cause to keep to keep the commies from the south. We just never agreed.
ISAACSON: There's been a magisterial biography of your late husband, Richard Holbrooke, written by George Packer, and in some ways, it includes
a whole sweep of the Cold War in our lifetime, beginning with the lessons of Vietnam, when Richard was a young Foreign Service officer. What were
those lessons of the Cold War and how did they get applied to maybe over- applied throughout?
MARTON: Yes, well, Richard was 23 when he landed in his first post which was Vietnam. He was sent into the Mekong Delta basically to win hearts and
minds. He was not a military guy, he was a fledgling diplomat fresh out of Brown University.
And he learned that America can't impose its will by sheer military might. There are things that are deeper and more important to people than being
fat, rich and happy. That we have deep rooted ties to our own culture, to our own history, and that the North Vietnamese didn't have, you know, a
10th of our resources in Vietnam, but yet they were winning the war because they were winning the hearts and minds.
And so I think it gave Richard a sense of humility, about what America can achieve using only weapons, and also a sense that what we stand for, no one
else can stand -- no one else does stand for unfortunately.
ISAACSON: You know, look at Vladimir Putin. How does that fit into your concept of where the Cold War went?
MARTON: Well, for Putin, the end of the Cold War, 1989. He was a KGB officer in Germany. And the night the wall came down was the worst night
of his life. He spent all night burning papers, burning files, burning -- and left Germany, in an old car with a 12-year-old washing machine as all
he had to show for his many years of service there -- total humiliation.
He never got over that humiliation, and his entire program since coming to power in the Kremlin has been to reclaim what he sees us Russia's rightful
place right next to the United States as a world power.
President Obama made a mistake in referring to Putin as a regional leader. That was such a source of anger and humiliation for Putin and only cause
caused him to double his efforts to get at us the only way he knew, which is not with conventional weapons, not with tanks, God knows -- cyberattacks
-- and he will do it by subverting our infrastructure and above all, our values wreaking havoc, confusion, as he has done is an enormous triumph for
I mean, look at look at the way we are toward each other. That is, you can -- you better believe it. He is rubbing his hands together somewhere in
one of those gilded halls in the Kremlin saying, "Look at those fools."
[13:50:21] ISAACSON: So, do you think we're in a new Cold War that he started?
MARTON: I don't think it's a new Cold War. I think in some ways, it's more serious because we're doing this to ourselves. There aren't going to
be any missiles in Cuba or anywhere in our neighborhood. He is content to let us implode from within.
And in some ways that's more serious because the Cold War was really a rallying cry for Americans to come together as we did with the moonwalk,
with the moon launch. It was an outgrowth of the Cold War, the Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957, which kind of was a wake-up call.
No, I think that that in some ways, this is a more dangerous war, because it targets who we are, our values and what are we or are we not still the
ISAACSON: You're writing a biography of Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor. Do you see her as the last great Democratic bulwark against
this totalitarianism and the remnants of the Cold War?
MARTON: I do. I do. Merkel is a remarkable story. I mean, she's one of those rare leaders that the closer you get and the more you know of her,
the more impressive she is because she is brilliant. She is very analytical, and she is incredibly self-disciplined.
Trump cannot get a rise out of her and neither can Putin, and neither can Erdogan or any of the others. She specializes in deflating macho men and
it's quite a specialty.
I am a big admirer. She is not without flaws, however, this is not a hagiography that I'm writing. I'm pretty clear-eyed about her. But here's
the remarkable thing. For 14 years, she's been the head of the most powerful European nation, Germany and she is a woman.
So how? So, that's what I'm trying to decode. I don't think we have enough time for me to tell you how she has done it. But she has done it
and she has withstood Trump's attempts to humiliate her through sheer intelligence.
She considers his attempts, for example, when he fishes out a piece of candy from his pocket and tosses it at the Chancellor who is a very
dignified lady and says, "Don't say I never gave you anything, Angela." She doesn't even blink. She thinks that's a sign of his own weakness.
When Putin unleashes his dog -- she is well-known to be afraid of dogs, she has been bitten a couple of times -- to try to shake her up. Her staff,
Merke's staff just goes, just freaks. You know, how can how can he do that? That swine. And she just says, "He is a weak man. He has to assert
his machismo somehow so he does it with this big black dog. So, everybody cool it."
So you know, that's the kind of discipline and the kind of emotional detachment that you need in positions of power.
ISAACSON: Kati, thank you for being with us.
MARTON: Thank you, Walter. It's been a pleasure. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So, as we end this program of celebration, let's not forget that every great moment apparently must have a great soundtrack. Apollo 11 was
So let's play you out with "Fly Me to the Moon" by Frank Sinatra. It was the song chosen by Buzz Aldrin on his cassette player as he descended onto
the lunar surface. Catch us online and on our podcast and see you next time.