The Space Race – 45 Years Ago Today, Apollo 11 Blasted Off To The Moon

Filed under: Kennedy Space Center |

Man Walks on the Moon

The Space Race between the two Cold War rivals, the Soviet Union and the United States, lasted from 1955 to 1972. It all began on 2nd August 1955 when the Soviet Union responded to the United States announcement, four days earlier, of intent to launch artificial satellites, by declaring they would also launch a satellite “in the near future”. The Soviets won the first “lap” with the October 4, 1957 launch of Sputnik 1 and the race reached its zenith with the July 20, 1969 US landing of the first humans on the Moon via Apollo 11.

It was on this day, 45 years ago, July 16, 1969 that Apollo 11, the first mission to land men on the moon, lifted off from launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center, carrying astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. July 20th 1969 was the date forever earmarked in history as Apollo 11 landed on the Moon and in the process fulfilled President John F. Kennedy’s statement, “We shall go to the moon in this decade.” Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to ever walk on the moon as a worldwide audience watched live on television.

Walk on moon

Other Notable Dates:

July 18, 1921: John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth was born. Glenn piloted the Mercury Capsule, Friendship 7 in 1962, successfully orbiting Earth three times. His last flight was aboard STS-95 Discovery which he piloted at the age of 67. He also served as one of Ohio’s United States Senators.

July 21, 1961: MRLV-8 capsule Liberty Bell 7, manned by Gus Grissom, was the second US manned suborbital flight. During splashdown, the hatch cover unexpectedly blew, and after Grissom was safely retrieved, the capsule sunk into the Atlantic Ocean. It was recovered 38 years later in 1999.

July 23, 1999: Eileen Collins became the first female Space Shuttle Commander when STS-93 Columbia launched 15 years ago. During this five-day mission the Chandra X-ray Observatory was successfully deployed.

July 24, 1950: On this day the first successful launch from Cape Canaveral took place. Under the direction of General Electric, the Bumper 2 rocket was used to test rocket systems and experiment with the upper atmosphere. The rocket reached a 1950 distance record of 400 kilometer the upper stage.

July 28, 1851: The first photograph of a total solar eclipse was taken by Berkowski, a local photographer in Prussia.

July 29, 1958: Spurred as a competitive reaction to the Soviet Union launching Sputnik, Congress passed legislation and President Eisenhower signed the

July 30, 1610: Galileo reports seeing odd extremities around Saturn. They would become known as Saturn’s rings.

July 31, 1971: Apollo 15 Astronauts David Scott and James Irwin became the first to use the Lunar Roving Vehicle, traveling 17.5 miles on the moon. They collected over 170 pounds of lunar samples to bring back to Earth.

The Space Race concluded with the April 1972 agreement on a co-operative Apollo-Soyuz test project, which resulted in the July 1975 meeting in Earth orbit of a US astronaut crew with a Soviet cosmonaut crew.

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