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Armstrong's first photo after setting foot on the Moon

Only in the Sixties

         "It was the best of times, it was
                                                 the worst of times ... "

The Sixties could be described in words Charles Dickens had written just over a century before the decade began: “It was the best of times, it was the worst
of times ... “

It was a time of stark contrasts. On one hand, it was an era of enormous political and social unrest. On the other, it offered unparalleled scientific advancement and artistic creativity.

The Sixties were Vietnam and protests against the war. But they were also the Beatles and Flower Power.

They were the assassinations of popular political leaders. But they were also movements in support civil and human rights. The Sixties have been described as the end of innocence but also as the end of naïveté.


John F. Kennedy

When Kennedy said “We choose to go to the moon,” in 1962, he wanted it done by the end of the decade. At the time, Project Mercury, NASA’s effort to get an astronaut into orbit, was already under way. But much of the expertise and machinery that would allow humans to walk on the moon did not yet exist.

“We shall send to the moon ... a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced...”

U.S.  President  John  F.  Kennedy
Rice  University  |  September  12, 1962

“I think Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo were really one program.
You know, the same guys pretty much flew them, they were all exploratory. Every flight was an engineering test flight. 
You were always getting into something that nobody had ever done before.”

James A. McDivitt
NASA Oral History |  June  29, 1999

The Mercury Years



May 5
Alan Shepard became the first American in space with the launch of the Mercury Freedom 7 mission. His sub-orbital flight lasted 15 minutes and 28 seconds.

May 25
President John F. Kennedy, addressing a Joint Session of Congress, said, “First, 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 back safely to the earth.
No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.”

July 21
The Mercury Liberty Bell 7 mission, piloted by Virgil “Gus” Grissom, was launched. The sub-orbital flight lasted 15 minutes and
37 seconds.


February 20
John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth on the Mercury Friendship 7 mission. The duration of Glenn’s flight, which included three Earth orbits, was 4 hours, 55 minutes,
23 seconds.

May 24
Mercury Aurora 7, piloted by Scott Carpenter, orbited the Earth three times. The flight lasted 4 hours, 56 minutes and 16 seconds.

September 12
In a speech at Rice University, President Kennedy said, “No nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space. (...) We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
Seven years later, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin would be the first men to walk on the Moon; ten years later, Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt would be the last.

October 3
Wally Schirra’s Sigma 7 flight lasted 9 hours,
13 minutes, 11 seconds and included six Earth orbits.


May 15
Gordon Cooper was the first American to spend more than a day in space and the last to orbit the Earth solo. His flight lasted one day, ten hours, nineteen minutes and 49 seconds. He orbited the Earth 22 times.

November 22
President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
He was 46 years old.

Kennedy, Johnson, and ... watching flight of Astronaut Shepard on television, 05 May 1961

The Gemini Program

1962 - 1966 | The moon comes closer


March 23 
The first manned Gemini mission, Gemini III, was launched with astronauts Virgil “Gus” Grissom and John Young aboard.
In 4 hours, 52 minutes and 31 seconds they orbited the Earth three times.

June 3-7 
On the Gemini IV mission, astronaut Ed White was the first American to perform a space walk. James McDivitt was the pilot.

August 21-29
On Gemini V, Gordon Cooper and Pete Conrad were the first Americans to spend a week in space. It was the first mission to use fuel cells for electrical power. They evaluated a guidance and navigation system for use in future rendezvous missions. They completed 120 orbits of the Earth in 7 days, 22 hours, 55 minutes and 14 seconds.

December 04-18 
Gemini VII had the primary objective of determining whether humans could live in space for 14 days. During their flight which lasted 13 days, 18 hours, 35 minutes and one second, astronauts Frank Borman
and James Lovell also welcomed their colleagues Wally Schirra and Thomas Stafford of Gemini VI- A in the first space rendezvous on the 15th of December 1965. The two capsules orbited in tandem for over five hours at distances of 0.3 meters to 90 meters
(one to 300 feet).


March  16-17 
On the Gemini VIII mission, Neil Armstrong and Dave Scott accomplished the fi rst docking with another space vehicle, an unmanned Agena satellite.

June 3-6 
Thomas Stafford’s and Eugene Cernan’s Gemini IX flight included two hours of EVA and 44 orbits in a period of just over three days.

June 18-21 
Gemini X saw the fi rst use of the Agena target vehicle’s propulsion systems. During the mission’s 43 orbits, Michael Collins had 49 minutes of EVA standing in the hatch and 30 minutes of EVA to retrieve an experiment from the Agena stage.

September 12-15
Gemini XI set a record altitude for the program: 1,189.3 km (739.2 miles) after rendezvousing and docking with an Agena target.

November 11-15 
The final Gemini fl ight, Gemini XII, rendezvoused and docked manually with its target Agena satellite and kept station with it during Buzz Aldrin’s recordsetting EVA of 5 hours and 30 minutes for a space walk and two stand-up exercises. 

Spacecraft evolution

The three missions NASA developed to navigate their path to the moon were markedly different in their respective goals, yet each built directly on the successes and failures of the prior. The selection criteria for astronauts changed with the mission, not only in terms of education and technical aspects, but some physical standards as well.

The initial Mercury astronauts were required to be 5 feet 11 inches or shorter, but height requirements for Gemini were relaxed by an inch as the capsules grew — slightly — more spacious. Here’s a look at how the three projects and crew capsules differed.


Six manned flights

Project Mercury was America’s first human spaceflight program. It successfully sent Alan Shepard into space, John Glenn around the world three times, and thoroughly tested the ability of a person to function in space. Mercury completed a total of six manned flights and four uncrewed flights with monkeys (Sam and Miss Sam) and chimpanzees (Ham and Enos) aboard.


10 manned flights

Named after the twin stars, the two-person Gemini capsule was at the center of the program to create a bridge to the moon. It capitalized on Mercury’s success, and set the stage for the upcoming Apollo program.

Flown by pairs of astronauts, the Gemini missions saw technical achievements such as the first American spacewalk, the first docking of spacecraft in orbit, and longer-duration missions of up to 14 days. Gemini astronauts were also the first to eat solid food in space.

On Gemini 3, John Young surprised Gus Grissom with a contraband corned beef sandwich in orbit. He did not finish it as it was producing too many crumbs floating around, a reason why astronauts prefer the less crumb-prone tortillas to this day.


11 manned flights

Standing on the shoulders of the Mercury and Gemini programs, the Apollo program completed nine missions to the moon, including six “soft” landings on the lunar surface. The 363-foot (111-meter) tall Saturn V rocket, the largest rocket ever built, launched the command service module and the lunar module into space.

Once in the moon’s orbit, two astronauts would pilot the lunar module to the surface while the command module circled above with a third astronaut, waiting for its return. When surface exploration was completed, the vessels would rejoin and depart for Earth, ultimately discarding everything but the capsule in the nose of the command module before plummeting back to Earth.

Note: Three astronauts — Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee — died in a fire while training in the capsule for the first crewed Apollo flight. Their training mission was officially assigned the name Apollo 1 in their honor.

“The moon I have known all my life, that two-dimensional small yellow disk in the sky, has gone away somewhere, to be replaced by the most awesome sphere I have ever seen...The belly of it bulges out toward us in such a pronounced fashion that I almost feel I can reach out and touch it.”

Michael  Collins
Apollo 11  Command  Module  Pilot

“Man must rise above Earth to the top of the atmosphere
and beyond, 
 for only then will he fully understand the world in which he lives.”


The realization of Socrates’ vision was thousands of years in the making. On a summer day in 1969, the eyes of half a billion people around the world were glued to their television sets, and watched it happen. On July 20, astronaut Neil Armstrong planted the first human foot onto a world that wasn’t our own, and declared it to be “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” And it was a leap into a new age of exploration.

The Apollo Program

1967–1972 | a step | a flight | a dream 


"... to achieving the goal, before this decade is out,
of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”
| John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1962 |
  • Februar 21, 1967

    Apollo  1 (AS-204)

    The crew of Apollo 1 was killed when fire engulfed their spacecraft during a ground test.

    Gus Grissom
    Edward H. White
    Roger B. Chaffee

  • October 11 – 22, 1968

    Apollo 7 

    First manned Earth orbital demonstration of Block II CSM, launched on Saturn IB. First live television publicly broadcast from a manned mission.

    Wally Schirra
    Walt Cunningham
    Donn Eisele

  • December 21 – 27, 1968

    Apollo 8

    First manned flight to Moon; CSM made 10 lunar orbits in 20 hours. The crew of Apollo 8 were the first humans to witness the rising over the Moon's horizon.

    Frank Borman
    James Lovell
    William Anders

  • March 3 – 13, 1969

    Apollo 9

    First manned flight of CSM and LM in Earth orbit; demonstrated Portable Life Support System to be used on the lunar surface.

    James McDivitt
    David Scott
    Russell Schweickart

  • May 18 – 26, 1969

    Apollo 10

    Dress rehearsal for first lunar landing; flew LM down to 50.000 feet (15 km) from the lunar surface.

    Thomas Stafford
    John Young
    Eugene Cernan

  • July 16 – 24, 1969

    Apollo 11

    First manned landing, in Sea of Tranquility.
    Surface EVA time: 2:31 hr.
    Samples returned: 21.55 kg.

    Neil Armstrong
    Michael Collins
    Buzz Aldrin

  • November 14 – 24, 1969

    Apollo 12

    Second landing, in Ocean of Storms near Surveyor 3.
    Surface EVA time: 7:45 hr.
    Samples returned: 34.30 kg

    C. "Pete" Conrad
    Richard Gordon
    Alan Bean

  • April 11 – 17, 1970

    Apollo 13

    Third landing attempt aborted near the Moon, due to SM failure. Crew used LM as life boat to return to Earth.

    James Lovell
    Jack Swigert
    Fred Haise

  • January 31 – Februar 9, 1971

    Apollo  14

    Third landing, in Fra Mauro.
    Surface EVA time: 9:21 hr.
    Samples returned: 42.80 kg.

    Alan Shepard
    Stuart Roosa
    Edgar Mitchell

  • July 26 – August 7, 1971

    Apollo 15

    First Extended LM and rover, landed in Hadley-Apennine.
    Surface EVA time:18:33 hr.
    Samples returned: 76.70 kg.

    David Scott
    Alfred Worden
    James Irwin

  • April 16 – 27, 1972

    Apollo  16

    Landed in Plain of Descartes.
    Surface EVA time: 20:14 hr. 
    Samples returned: 94.30 kg

    John Young
    T. Kenneth Mattingly
    Charles Duke

  • December 7 – 19, 1972

    Apollo 17

    Only Saturn V night launch. Landed in Taurus-Littrow. First geologist on the Moon. Final manned Moon landing.
    Surface EVA time: 22:02 hr.
    Samples returned: 110.40 kg.

    Eugene Cernan
    Ronald Evans
    Harrison Schmitt

















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.


Astronauts who walked on the Moon

Neil Armstrong

Apollo 11

Buzz Aldrin

Apollo 11

Pete Conrad

Apollo 12

Alan Bean

Apollo 12

Alan Shepard

Apollo 14

Edgar Mitchell

Apollo 14

Dave Scott

Apollo 15

James Irwin

Apollo 15

John W. Young

Apollo 16

Charlie Duke

Apollo 16

Eugene Cernan

Apollo 17

Harrison Schmitt

Apollo 17


who flew to the Moon without landing

Frank Borman

Apollo 8

Jim Lovell

Apollo 8, 13

Bill Anders

Apollo 8

Tom Stafford

Apollo 10

Mike Collins

Apollo 11

Dick Gordon

Apollo 12

Jack Swigert

Apollo 13

Fred Haise

Apollo 13

Stu Roosa

Apollo 14

Al Worden

Apollo 15

Ken Mattingly

Apollo 16

Ron Evans

Apollo 17


Only three Astronauts to have flown to the Moon twice

Jim Lovell

Apollo 8, 13

John W. Young

Apollo 10, 16

Eugene Cernan

Apollo 10, 17


Gene Kranz



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