On July 26, 1971 the Apollo 15 mission lifted off from Kennedy Space Center with a mission to explore Earth’s moon.

Four days later, on July 30, 1971 Lunar Module landed on lunar surface. During the mission astronauts David Scott and James Irwin honored Ray Bradbury by naming an impact crater Dandelion Crater, after the author’s classic 1957 novel Dandelion Wine.

It was a tribute to a longtime supporter of their dream and their mission. Through speeches, interviews, and articles for Life magazine, Ray Bradbury spent the 1960s as one of the most enthusiastic public proponents of space exploration in general and the Apollo program in particular. To him, the race to the moon meant nothing less than a necessary step in the evolution of the human race.

When Apollo 11 made its historic landing on the lunar surface in 1969, Bradbury was in London taking his usual summer holiday with his family. He nonetheless found reporter Mike Wallace and did an interview broadcast via tape delay by CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite at NASA Houston. As Jonathan Eller notes in the forthcoming UIP book Ray Bradbury Unbound:

Bradbury presented space exploration as the great moral substitute for war: “War is a great toy to play with. Men and boys love war . . . let us eliminate war because the proper enemy is before us. All of the universe doesn’t care whether we exist or not, but we care whether we exist . . . this is the proper war to fight.”

There was no scientific introspection here; Bradbury was not capable of it, and never pretended to be. But Walter Cronkite’s live studio audience at NASA Houston burst into applause for the final words of the writer who still listened to the whispers of the boy within.

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