Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
Apollo to the Moon
Apollo to the Moon

Early Steps

After President Kennedy's 1961 speech, NASA embarked on several science programs to prepare for the Apollo missions, which would land humans on the moon. Robotic spacecraft equipped with scientific instrumentation studied the Moon from 1962 to 1968. Simultaneously, other missions were being carried out that put astronauts into Earth orbit and tested their ability to function in extreme acceleration ("g-forces") and weightlessness. Throughout the 1960s, NASA was devoting all of its efforts to prepare for landing humans on the moon.

Surveyor 3 on the Lunar Surface

Robots on the Moon

Robotic vehicles provided an understanding of interplanetary space and lunar... Read more

John Glenn

Humans in Space

The Mercury and Gemini programs were the early U.S. efforts in human... Read more

Apollo 4 Launch

Building a Moon Rocket

Neither the United States nor the Soviet Union possessed a rocket powerful enough... Read more