The United States of America had always been the strongest nation in the world. However, on October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union became the first to successfully launch a satellite into earth’s orbit. On this date, the Soviets launched Sputnik and then one month later, they launched Sputnik II. This began the space race.
I declare America will be the first to walk on the moon!
In response to this, America’s military began to focus heavily on creating a rocket that could be launched into space while carrying with it the Vanguard Satellite that would be inserted into earth’s orbit. The rocket lifted off about a couple feet before it blew up into flames. This failure prompted Eisenhower to start a space organization called NASA.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) took America’s space program out of the control of the military. This allowed America to keep up with the Soviet’s advances in the space competition. America could not beat the Soviets in reaching space; however, NASA buckled down and came up with a plan to be the first to successfully land a man on the moon.
Since the Soviets had already beaten America in many areas of space travel, America was determined to be the first to land a man on the moon and return him safely. President John F. Kennedy made this declaration in May of 1961. He wanted to gain an advantage over the Soviets, and so, he set a goal to accomplish this feat before the end of the decade.
This plan was coined the Apollo program and it was a much needed success for America in the space race. America was finally beginning to make progress and on February 20, 1962, John Glenn was sent into earth’s orbit successfully as a part of the Mercury program. The next step was to accomplish the famous three-man Apollo mission.
The Apollo program was extremely intense. In 1967, the first trial run part of this mission did not go as planned as three men died in a training exercise due to a fire inside the capsule. This set the original plan back quite a bit; however, the mission continued. Then, finally, on July 20, 1969, America had done it! America became the first to land a man on the moon and bring him back safely to earth.