Man Lands on the Moon
The Apollo space programme started off with an unthinkable tragedy, but ended in triumph for the whole planet
IN THE early 1960s the Americans were becoming pretty concerned. The Cold War had been raging for more than a decade, spearheaded by the two superpowers: the United States of America in the west and the Soviet Union in the east. And in the Space Race the Soviets were in the lead.
By 1961 they had already put a satellite into space and sent a dog and a person into orbit. This meant they could also launch a military attack from space. They were also at least two years ahead of the US in the race to reach the moon . . . Then John F Kennedy became US president and gave his support to the plan to reach the moon. “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 Earth,” he told Congress (the American parliament) on 25 May 1961.
Soon the whole country had moon fever. Cape Canaveral in Florida, where rocket launches took place, became a popular tourist destination. Space became the greatest show on Earth and the astronauts became overnight celebrities.
At NASA engineers, pilots and managers worked non-stop to achieve the goal Kennedy had promised the American people. They called it Project Apollo: the third American human spaceflight programme and the one that was destined to take Americans to the moon.
President John F Kennedy promised Americans the moon in 1961.