In the 1960s, the Apollo program allowed the United States to bring the first man to the moon and thus beat the Soviet Union in the space race. The Apollo program was born in 1961 when the then-new president John F. Kennedy promised, during a speech to the Chambers, by the end of the decade that an American would go to the Moon and return safely to Earth.
The promise stemmed from a series of “burning defeats” suffered by the then Soviet Union, which began in 1957 with Sputnik’s first artificial satellite, ending in 1961 with the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin.
Over 400,000 people worked on the Apollo program, which cost America about $ 24 billion of the time. The first experimental launches were carried out already during 1961 with sub-orbital flights using rockets called Saturn I. In 1964, the first orbital flights of the Apollo capsule prototypes began.
The program should have had its human debut on February 1967, but a few weeks before the launch, during training, the pure oxygen-filled capsule caught fire, killing the first three astronauts destined for the Apollo program. The American space agency, NASA, thus had the project entirely redesigned by the construction company, which had at that point as the first objective the safeguard of the crew at the cost of not being able to maintain the promise of President Kennedy. The program stopped for 22 months, and only in October 1968, the first spacecraft of the program, Apollo7, brought three American astronauts to Earth orbit.
The deadline was close, and according to American espionage, the Russians were about to try the blow of bringing a Soviet to the Moon. NASA then decided that the Apollo 8 flight, scheduled for the Christmas period of 1968, would lead men to circumnavigate the Moon for the first time. The mission was a success thanks to the Saturn V rocket, the most potent carrier ever built, conceived by the German-born scientist Wernher von Braun.
The following Apollo 9 and 10 missions only served to test the machines, which were then used in July 1969 (a few months before the “deadline” of the promise) with the flight of the Apollo 11, which brought two men Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin to walk first on our satellite. Between 1969 and 1972 entirely another six missions ended happily, bringing together 12 men to walk on the moon. Only Apollo 13, in April 1970, due to an explosion of an oxygen tank in the service module, risked becoming a tragedy. Fortunately, the three astronauts managed to save themselves by returning to Earth