In 1969, NASA launched Apollo 9, which conducted critical tests of its lunar module in Earth orbit; and Apollo 10, which all but landed on the moon, bringing its crew within a few miles of the lunar surface.
Then, on July 20, 1969, the space race reached its peak when .
“Some engineers worried that developing that equipment would distract from efforts to achieve a lunar landing.
But NASA's communications team argued that telling the story was just as important as the achievement itself.
Following the Soviet Union’s launch of the first orbital satellite, Sputnik 1, in October of 1957, and their subsequent placing of the first man in space a month prior to Kennedy’s appeal to Congress, this proposal was calculated with the intention of decisively demonstrating America’s superiority in space. Johnson, in his capacity as chairman of the National Aeronautics and Space Council, to identify a goal that would overshadow the Soviet space program. Kennedy declared in 1961 that the United States would go to the Moon, he was committing the nation to do something we simply couldn't do.” Traveling to the Moon requires planning, not to mention special tools and equipment.
The choices: put a laboratory in space, orbit a man around the Moon, or land a man on the Moon. But given the Soviets’ prior two landmark achievements, it seemed unlikely – ambitious and inspiring, but equally naïve – with scant consideration of the practical requirements of the momentous task, it seemed unlikely that the U. Fishman explained: NASA had no rockets to launch astronauts to the Moon, no computer portable enough to guide a spaceship to the Moon, no spacesuits to wear on the way, no spaceship to land astronauts on the surface (let alone a Moon car to let them drive around and explore), no network of tracking stations to talk to the astronauts en route...
But as the agency evolved, it started announcing more details about the Apollo program.
It championed its astronauts, talked openly about mission goals and challenges, and shared launch times so people could watch.
It was an outgrowth of the mid-20th-century Cold War, a tense global conflict that pitted the ideologies of capitalism and communism against one another, according to an online exhibit from the on Oct. That same year, NASA was founded and publicly announced , including the first mission to leave Earth orbit, Luna 1; the first probe to reach the moon, Luna 2; and the first spacecraft to head toward Venus, Venera, which stopped responding a week after its launch. Kennedy stood before legislators in Congress and announced that he had committed NASA to landing people on the moon before the end of the decade.
On April 12, 1961, the Soviets obtained another spectacular victory with the successful flight of , into space by less than a month. A major turning point in the space race occurred that same month, when U. A few months later, at Rice University in Texas, Kennedy delivered his famous "" where he said, "We choose to go to the moon …