Fifty-six years ago, U.S. President John F. Kennedy announced his goal of putting a man on the moon. The first Saturn rocket (SA–1) was launched October 27, 1961.
Fifty-six years ago, U.S. President John F. Kennedy announced his goal
of putting a man on the moon.
The first Saturn rocket (SA–1) was launched
October 27, 1961.
Project Apollo was under way.
APOLLO WAS THE GREEK GOD of archery, music and, most significantly, he was god of the sun. The spacecraft named after him was designed to take three astronauts to the moon’s orbit, where it would release a lunar module with two astronauts aboard to land on the moon. After two days, the module would lift off and bring them back to orbit, and all crew would return to earth. In 1967, a flash fire in the first manned Apollo Saturn flight during launch rehearsal killed the three astronauts aboard. The Apollo 1 mission commemorative medallion is depicted.
APOLLO SPACECRAFT WERE LIFTED BY Saturn rockets. Initially, the rockets carried only functional stages of the spacecraft as it was being developed, then later lifted an unmanned Apollo spacecraft into Earth’s orbit. Starting in 1968, Apollo missions were manned. Above: photographs taken aboard Apollo 9 show the crew enjoying their ten-day stay in earth’s orbit. More distant views of earth were captured on missions to the moon. (In the circle is a photograph by the Apollo 10 crew.)
APOLLO 11 LANDED ON THE MOON on July 20, 1969. The specially designed folding American flag was planted together by Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin. However the very first “flag” on the moon’s surface, which Aldrin is installing above, was the Solar Wind Composition Experiment. In the Swiss-led experiment, Apollo astronauts on the moon exposed an aluminum foil sheet to the flow of charged particles emitted by the sun and then brought the foils back to earth for scientific analysis, along with several tens of kilograms of moon rocks.
IN 1970, APOLLO 13 CANCELED its moon landing after an oxygen tank exploded, damaging the ship. The crew used the lunar module as their “lifeboat.” Above, engineers on the ground improvise a way to remove carbon dioxide from the module—such that the astronauts could construct on board. They nicknamed the device a “mailbox.” The successful splashdown is pictured. The 1995 film Apollo 13 is based on the book Lost Moon written by mission commander Jim Lovell.
FOUR MORE MISSIONS FOLLOWED. Apollo 15 astronauts stayed on the moon for three days and used a lunar rover, which Eugene Cernan of Apollo 17 (1972) is driving above. So far, he remains the last person who has walked on the moon. Thanks to space-history fan Kipp Teague and NASA’s cooperation, thousands of photographs taken by Apollo astronauts are on the Internet. They are unedited, large, and free to view or download. Take your own moon ride!