TO REACH THE MOON"Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."
U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong, on the Moon, 1969
After President Kennedy's call for human exploration of the Moon, nearly all of NASA's efforts in space turned toward the goal of a lunar landing.
Science missions were mounted to study the Moon in advance of human exploration. In the 1960s, Ranger, Surveyor and Lunar Orbiter spacecraft gathered data on the Moon by crashing into, landing on, and orbiting our nearest celestial neighbor. During these programs, thirteen robotic spacecraft transmitted detailed images of the Moon, probed the strength and composition of the lunar surface, and searched for landing sites for human explorers.
Concurrent with the scientific study of the Moon, human exploration of space began. Project Mercury, jumpstarted by astronaut Allan Shephard's suborbital flight in May 1961, and then the Gemini Program served as learning experiences in preparation for trips to the Moon. All of this effort fed into the Apollo Program, redefined and accelerated soon after President Kennedy's 1961 speech. Under Apollo, NASA took the final steps toward fulfilling Kennedy's bold commitment. On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon. Over the next three years a total of 12 Apollo astronauts explored portions of the airless, dusty moonscape. The last Apollo manned landing mission ended in December 1972.
MANAGING THE MOON JOURNEY
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