Man Lands on the Moon

YOU Gateway to Space - - Contents -

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.

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