What were major Moon Missions?


After the former Soviet Union launched the first man into orbit in 1961, American President John E Kennedy announced that the USA would land a man on the Moon before the end of the 1960s. A new spacecraft specially designed for the mission, called Apollo, was built. It consisted of a Command Module, from where the astronauts controlled the craft, a Service Module, which contained a rocket engine and life-support systems, and a Lunar Module, the only section that was to descend to the Moon’s surface. A new launch vehicle, the giant Saturn V, was also built. During a series of missions in Earth and Moon orbit throughout the 1960s, Apollo was thoroughly tested and astronauts trained for the Moon landing.

The Lunar Module of Apollo 11, called Eagle, landed on the Moon on 20th July 1969. A few hours after touchdown, watched by millions on live television, Neil Armstrong clambered down a ladder and stepped on to the surface to become the first human on the Moon. Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin followed him. The third astronaut on the mission, Michael Collins, orbited above in the Command Module. Armstrong and Aldrin gathered samples of Moon rock and soil and planted a flag before lifting off in the upper section of the Lunar Module to dock with the Command Module. There they rejoined Collins, jettisoned the Lunar Module and began the return trip to Earth. Five more Apollo Moon missions followed the last in 1972.

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