After the Mercury rocket program, President KENNEDY delivered a speech propelling the nation towards the first moon landing. NASA developed the GEMINI program intended to teach engineers how to live and work in space. ED WHITE was the first American astronaut to open the doors to the space capsule and float around in zero gravity outside the space craft.
The Gemini program lasted only a short time. NASA soon began a new program to land men on the moon, the APOLLO program.
On July 20, 1969, Neil ARMSTRONG and Buzz ALDRIN landed on the moon aboard the lunar module named THE EAGLE. Neil’s first words upon stepping on the moon were, “That’s one small STEP for man, but one giant LEAP for mankind.”
TWELVE men in all walked upon the moon’s surface, collecting rock samples, setting up experiments, and learning about the lunar environment. In one decade, J.F.K’s vision for the space program had come true.
After the conclusion of the Apollo program, NASA set its sights on a reusable vehicle. The SPACE SHUTTLE was designed to launch up to seven astronauts and large payloads into space. Most importantly, it was designed to be reused over and over again.
In 1983, Sally RIDE becomes the first American woman to ride into space.
The space shuttle was designed in the early 1970s and is still in use today. Since its first launch in 1981 it has flown over 125 missions delivering telescopes, science experiments, satellites, and components to the International Space Station. In just a few years, it will be phased out to make room for a new space program named: ARES and ORION. They will reuse parts of the space shuttle and return the space program to a capsule system.