Journey for the Brave by Alan E. Nourse - Courage will be a big qualification for the pilot who flies the first moon rocket. But who decides if a man is brave—or a coward?...
The base diner was hot and stuffy that night as Scotty Johnson sat with Mitch and Jack and the other boys, sipping his last cup of coffee before Zero Hour rolled around. Mitch and Jack had succeeded in sneaking him out of town before the reporters had guessed what was happening. Now they sat in silence, sipping their coffee, glancing at him from time to time as though to make sure he were still there. It annoyed Scotty. This was the time to laugh, and joke, and bull away as if nothing was going to happen at all.
The waitress trotted over with a coffee pot, and Scotty gave her his widest leer. "You know, I can't think of anything I'd rather have right now than a cup of coffee from you," he said. "How about a date in about ten days?"
The girl looked startled, and glanced away nervously. Mitch gave a tight little laugh. "Better watch out. Scotty. She's liable to be waiting on the landing field when you get back—"
They all laughed at that, and then silence fell again. They were nervous. Scotty could sense it, even though they tried to cover it up. All through these weeks of preparation in the hot New Mexico sun, the tension had been growing. But he should be the one to be nervous, not these lads. After all, who was the star of this show? Scotty nuzzled his coffee, and twisted his wiry five-foot-two inch frame around so that he could see the door. "Better drink up," he said. "The jeep should be here any minute."
Mitch nodded and emptied his cup as the jeep's tires screeched on the pavement outside. The door of the coffeeshop burst open, and a head with an MP's crash helmet popped in. "All set, Scotty? Let's go!"