Going to the Moon
- The actual beginning of the effort that resulted in manned space flight cannot be pinpointed although it is known that the thought has been in the mind of man throughout recorded history. It was only in the last decade, however, that technology had developed to the point where man could actually transform his ideas into hardware to achieve space flight. Specific studies and tests conducted by government and industry culminating in 1958 indicated the feasibility of manned space flight. Implementation was initiated to establish a national manned space-flight project, later named Project Mercury, on October 7, 1958. The life of Project Mercury was about 4 2/3 years, from the time of its official go-ahead to the completion of the 34-hour orbital mission of Astronaut Cooper.
Project Mercury was the first human spaceflight program of the United States, running from 1959 through 1963. John Glenn and Gordon Cooper.
- Project Gemini was NASA's second human spaceflight program. It was a United States government civilian space program started in 1961 and concluded in 1966. Project Gemini was conducted between projects Mercury and Apollo. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the main astronauts. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced December
7, 1961, a plan to extend the existing manned space flight program by development of a two-man spacecraft. The program was officially designated Gemini on January 3, 1962. It was named after the third constellation of the zodiac, featuring the twin stars Castor and Pollux. The program was operationally completed with the Gemini XII flight.
- Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that landed the first humans on the Moon, Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on July 20, 1969, at 20:18 UTC. Armstrong became the first to step onto the lunar surface six hours later on July 21 at 02:56 UTC.It is only seven months since NASA's made a bold decision to send Apollo 8 all the way to the moon on the first manned flight of the massive Saturn V rocket.
Now, on the morning of July 16 sit atop another Saturn V at Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. The three-stage 363-foot rocket will use its 7.5 million pounds of thrust to propel them into space and into history.
At 9:32 a.m. EDT, the engines fire and Apollo 11 clears the tower. About 12 minutes later, the crew is in Earth orbit.
After one and a half orbits, Apollo 11 gets a "go" for what mission controllers call "Translunar Injection" - in other words, it's time to head for the moon. Three days later the crew is in lunar orbit. A day after that, Armstrong and Aldrin climb into the lunar module Eagle and begin the descent, while Collins orbits in the command module Columbia.
Collins later writes that Eagle is "the weirdest looking contraption I have ever seen in the sky," but it will prove its worth.
When it comes time to set Eagle down in the Sea of Tranquility, Armstrong improvises, manually piloting the ship past an area littered with boulders. During the final seconds of descent, Eagle's computer is sounding alarms.