Finding wisdom in unexpected placesI am a huge fan of the space program, especially of what I like to think of at the golden age -- the Apollo missions to the Moon. As a middle- and high-school student, I used to find excuses to stay home from school to watch the launches on TV, and remained glued to the TV any time there was live coverage. Astronauts were (and still are) some of those people I consider my greatest heroes.
As I get older and more philosophical (and hopefully, marginally wiser), I started looking beyond the "coolness factor" of the space program, and seeing the humanity of those behind it -- not just the astronauts, but their families, flight controllers, spacecraft engineers, etc. It was a truly great time for humanity as well as space exploration.
There are many good books and documentaries of this time, but a few of them are stand-outs:
1) Andrew Chaiken's book "A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts" is probably the best book on some of the people who made this happen (particularly the astronauts).
2) Tom Hanks' HBO series, "From the Earth to the Moon" (derived from Chaikin's book) presents these stories in hugely accurate and spell-binding way.
3) Astronaut Gene Cernan's book, "Last Man on the Moon"
4) "In the Shadow of the Moon" is a video documentary gathering the thoughts and impressions of the remaining Apollo astronauts with some spectacular video.
This link shows a particularly good clip from the HBO series (if you haven't seen it, you should). The narration is by the actor portraying Apollo 12 Lunar Module pilot, Alan Bean, realizing the most important aspect of any endeavor -- "... whether it's across town, or to the moon and back...."