In this inimitable manner. John Kennedy made a bold statement on May 25, 1961, “Now is the time to take longer strides, time for a great new American Enterprise, time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievements which in many ways may hold the key to our future an earth…I believe. that this nation should commit itself achieve the goal, before this decade is out of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.”

Men landed on the moon and came back to earth

After years of longingly and greedily gazing at the moon, men have set foot on it ultimately. The moment of victory and glory came exactly at 20 seconds past 8-26 A. M. IST on July 21, 1969 when U. S. astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped down from the lunar module Eagle’ which had made a perfect touch down on the moon’s surface a few hours before. He was followed shortly afterwards by Edwin Aldrin a fellow astronaut. As the two heroic space pioneers walked around for the next-two hours, collecting valuable soil and rock samples setting up various instruments, they were as long as any two solitary adventures Owing to the miraculous efficiency of radio and television, they were heard and seen by a large audience. There was the third astronaut. Mechael Colins, circling patiently overhead in the command module Columbia. The undaunted trio came back to earth on July 2- and Apollo 11 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. Thus the epoch making travel began on July 16 and ended on July 24, 1969.

Some facts and figures

The moon can be turned into an ideal launching pad for man’s journey to other worlds on account of its low gravity and airless state. It is really not easy to believe that so much could have been achieved barely in 12 years after the launching of the first tiny sputnik. The Apollo II mission is a triumph of teamwork and technology. As many as 4,00,000 scientists and technicians worked for 8 years to perfect the giant 36 storey Saturn rocked and spaceship and combine at a cost of 350 million dollars. Even more astonishing is the high degree of technological perfection which escaped any margin of error. The spaceship alone contains no less than million moving parts and the minutes slip could have endangered the entire mission. The astronauts also faced some unknown dangers. For example, stronger gravitational pull over certain are as of the moon threw earlier spaceships slightly of schedule orbits. The incomparable and dazzling success which has crowned the Apollo mission is a suitable and deserving reward for the astronauts who refused to surrender to the inherent risks.

Some speculations and the moon

Men through the countless centuries have made the moon the object of poem and song being inspired by its enchanting glow and brilliance. They have embellished it with many superstitions, being frightened by its waning and waxing. Many writers have harbored the belief that the moon may sometimes affect man’s discretion and intelligence and drive him to foolish and ill-fated deeds. But for all its familiarity the moon has, till now, remained an enigma. Countless speculations surrounded the earth of its origin. Is it the outcome of a star’s collision with the sun ? Is it a very huge globe which the earth spewed forth and placed in orbit around itself? Or was the moon made at the same time as other plants, out of one vast swirling mass of cosmic matter? The soil and rock samples brought back by the Apollo astronauts may furnish with an answer to these confusing questions. A study of lunar soil and rock should, therefore, give reliable clues about its origin. Instruments left behind by the astronauts will also add immensely to man’s knowledge of the moon. A solar wind collector will trap rare gases like helium and zen on from the sun’s rays while a cosmic station will radio back volcanic and lunar activity to earth stations. A lateral reflection will reflect beams from the earth for a more accurate measurements of the distance to the moon and the variations in it. The historic moon landing has provided man with enormous possibilities. Politicians may think of colonization of the moon. Its ideal vacuum, unmatched by any artificially created vacuum in a laboratory will assist to evolve an altogether new set of technological process which are not possible on earth. The two-week night on the moon when temperature operating on materials and living tissues persists. A more immediate project could be the setting up of an astronomical observatory on the moon where there is no atmosphere to check vision.

The background of the victory over the moon

While the three astronauts will eventually become a legend, the story their victory and achievement goes back to that historical day on October 4, 1957 when the Soviet Union set the trail blazing by rocking the first artificial Satellite-Sputnik I, weighing 184 lbs. into space. Since then, fantastic developments in spaceology, embracing within its gamut the entire scientific world, involving almost half a million people, made the moon landing a certainty. Nearly four years after orbiting of the first Satellite, Soviet Union again hit the headings, when Yuri Gagin, who died in an air crash on March 27. 1968 during a training flight stayed in his Vostock-1 Spacecraft for one hour and forty eight minutes completing one orbit in April 1961 He openly dis played the ability of the human body to withstand the effort to take off and re-entry as also work in state of weightlessness. Bogged down by initial failures, the United States space programme progressed at a slow pace. Though they did achieve one outstanding success in 1960 when Echo-1, a giant balloon which could be seen by the naked eye was launched. They had to wait for their first manned space flight till May 5, 1961 when Allen B. Shepherd made a fifteen minute suborbital fight in Freedom-6 Spacecraft. This flight inspired the late President John F. Kennedy to boot up the American space programme. At his request and initiative, the Congress provided the necessary funds and the American space authorities stepped up their endeavors for the conquest of the moon. In quick succession followed the Mariner, Ranger, Mercury and the Gemini series. Each of these programmes were aimed at developing and testing specific techniques, collection of data and photographs. By the time, the Gemini programme ended on November 15, 1956, the United States astronauts had carried out such complicated man oeuvres as ‘docking and walking’ through the space, suspended by the ‘umbilical’ cord. Thus, there was a very justifiable hope of the con quest to the moon when the 24 million dollar Apollo programme commenced. But little did the world realise that a tragedy lay in store. One day in January 1967, astronauts Virgil, Grissom, Edgar White and Loger Ohaffee entered the first spacecraft for a rehearsal in preparation for a flight in February. No sooner had the hatch closed than a short circuit reduced the whole spacecraft to cinders and with that these gallant men perished. In addition, another tragedy occurred in April, 67, when during the re-entry of the Soviet Soyuz-1, the spacecraft crashed killing Cosmonauts Valdimir Komarav. Most appropriately, Neil Armstrong left behind the medals and shoulder patches of these four brave spacemen when he landed on the moon. The former tragedy struck a heavy blow to the Apollo progamme causing a twenty two month delay in its implementation. As the designers got busy with altering the interior the spacecraft to reduce fire hazards, the space activity virtually came to a standstill. During this full lull, Dr. Wernher Von Braun, the rocket wizard and his experts got busy with experimenting with, and improving Saturn-S Rocket, the backbone of the Apollo project. The first authentic test of this rocket came on December 21, 1968 when in sent Frenk Borman, James A. Lovell, Jr. William A. Anders to within 70 of the moon enabling the astronauts to miles graph and map hence came the moon from such close quarters. Two months the Apollo-9 flight in which astronauts Mcdivitt, David R. Scott and Russel Sohweickart tested the lunar module and carried the transfer of the crew. So perfect were these flights that when Stafford, Yaund and Cernan took off in Apollo-10 on March 3, there never was any doubt that the dream would come true by the end of the 70s. In fact, this was the final dress rehearsal and a prelude to the great event. But for the actual landing all the man oeuvres, which the astronauts were required to do during the moon shot were carried out with success. Stafford and Cernan even flew the lunar module to within 94 miles off the moon while Young remained in a parking orbit, 70 miles high. Then came 16th of July, 1969 when the world witnessed the most dramatic event.

A warning to man

Man should be proud of what he has achieved but he should be sorry too for what he has failed to achieve. While he is engrossed in the race to win the moon, there is chaos and confusion on the earth. Man’s every adventure should aim at providing mankind with better food and a shelter.


An exploit similar to that of Apollo-11 was carried out successfully by Apollo-12 in November 1969. This time three astronauts went with the object of landing in the ocean of storms and carry out more elaborate experiments and bring back more moon, rocks and dust. The astronauts were Charles Conard, Alan Bean and Richard Gordon. The first two went to the surface of the moon, while Gordon piloted the command module during the ex-cur on the moon of his colleagues. The flight went off as scheduled and is said to have been more perfect and accurate than the first one that landed man on the moon. In April, 1970. America launched Apollo-13 with the objective of knowing more about the conquered planet. However, the mission was unsuccessful owing to the defect in gas cylinder, traced at a great height. The astronauts came back to the land after a few hours of very great anxiety. After the historic mission of Apollo-14, America launched Apollo-15 in July 1971. It was another great achievement and scientists were able to know much about the moon. It is hoped that within a few years, all of us shall be in a position to have a trip on the moon.

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