Project Apollo, the United States' manned Moon landing programme, culminated in 1969 with Apollo 11. Mission commander Neil Armstrong's famous words, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind", spoken as he stepped onto the lunar surface, were heard by an estimated 600 million television viewers.
There were a further five Apollo landings: Apollo 12 and Apollo 14-17. Famously, Apollo 13 ended in near-disaster in 1970 when a oxygen tank explosion forced the mission to be aborted. The programme was cancelled in 1972.
Photo: Alan Bean collecting soil samples (NASA/C. Conrad)
America lands a man on the Moon.
Astronaut Jim Lovell describes returning to the Earth.
Before the 1969 Apollo 11 Moon landing, astronaut Jim Lovell describes what it was like to return to the Earth in a space capsule. Lovell flew into space aboard Gemini 7 and 12 and Apollo 8 and 13.
Neil Armstrong makes a hair-raising landing on the Moon.
Project Apollo, the United States's manned Moon landing programme, culminated in 1969 with Apollo 11. Mission commander Neil Armstrong's famous words, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind", spoken as he stepped onto the lunar surface, were heard by an estimated 600 million television viewers. This clip contains some re-enactment footage.
America's manned space programme faces early tragedy.
Three American astronauts, Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee, were accidentally killed in a 1967 training exercise later named Apollo 1. The men died when fire broke out in their oxygen-filled space capsule.
NASA prepares for the ultimate goal of a man on the Moon.
The 1968 Apollo 8 spacecraft was the first manned probe to orbit the Moon. The astronauts on board were Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders.
Meet the men who landed on the Moon.
The crew of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission were Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the Moon and walked on its surface. Collins remained behind in the command module, which orbited the Moon during the landing.
The Apollo program, also known as Project Apollo, was the third United States human spaceflight program carried out by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which accomplished landing the first humans on the Moon from 1969 to 1972. First conceived during Dwight D. Eisenhower's administration as a three-man spacecraft to follow the one-man Project Mercury which put the first Americans in space, Apollo was later dedicated to President John F. Kennedy's national goal of "landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth" by the end of the 1960s, which he proposed in a May 25, 1961 address to US Congress. Project Mercury was followed by the two-man Project Gemini (1962–66). The first manned flight of Apollo was in 1968.
Kennedy's goal was accomplished on the Apollo 11 mission when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed their Lunar Module (LM) on July 20, 1969, and walked on the lunar surface, while Michael Collins remained in lunar orbit in the Command/Service Module (CSM), and all three landed safely on Earth on July 24. Five subsequent Apollo missions also landed astronauts on the Moon, the last in December 1972. In these six spaceflights, twelve men walked on the Moon.
Apollo ran from 1961 to 1972, and was supported by the two-man Gemini program which ran concurrently with it from 1962 to 1966. Gemini missions developed some of the space travel techniques that were necessary for the success of the Apollo missions. Apollo used Saturn family rockets as launch vehicles. Apollo / Saturn vehicles were also used for an Apollo Applications Program which consisted of three Skylab space station missions in 1973–74.
The Apollo program succeeded in achieving its goal of manned lunar landing, despite the major setback of a 1967 Apollo 1 cabin fire that killed the entire crew during a pre-launch test. After the first landing, sufficient flight hardware remained for nine follow-on landings with a plan for extended lunar geological and astrophysical exploration. Budget cuts forced the cancellation of three of these. Five of the remaining six missions achieved successful landings, but the Apollo 13 landing was prevented by an oxygen tank explosion in transit to the Moon, which disabled the command spacecraft's propulsion and life support. The crew returned to Earth safely by using the Lunar Module as a "lifeboat" for these functions.
Apollo set several major human spaceflight milestones. It stands alone in sending manned missions beyond low Earth orbit. Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to orbit another celestial body, while the final Apollo 17 mission marked the sixth Moon landing and the ninth manned mission beyond low Earth orbit. The program returned 842 pounds (382 kg) of lunar rocks and soil to Earth, greatly contributing to the understanding of the Moon's composition and geological history. The program laid the foundation for NASA's current human spaceflight capability, and funded construction of its Johnson Space Center and Kennedy Space Center. Apollo also spurred advances in many areas of technology incidental to rocketry and manned spaceflight, including avionics, telecommunications, and computers.