“It will not be one man going to the moon – if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.”
US President John F. Kennedy – May 25, 1961
Since the beginning of mankind, humans have looked to the Moon in wonder and curiosity. In order to explain its purpose, man has created many legends and myths about the Earth’s only natural satellite. They range from a heaven for dead souls to a ball made of green cheese. No matter how differently people have viewed the Moon, one thought has always been constant… When will man journey there?
In 1961, US President John F. Kennedy committed his nation to landing a man on that very same Moon by the end of the decade. On May 25th, the president, in an address to the US Congress, proclaimed; “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.”
On the other side of the world, the Soviet Union was also making plans to land a man on the Moon before the Americans. The Soviet timetable for landing on the moon was simple and stated by Soyuz 1 commander Vladimir M. Komarov in 1965; “If the American formula for a manned lunar landing was “1969 + X,” then the Soviet formula would be “1969 + (X–1).”
To achieve their goals, the nations would require the labor of a combined one million people and billions in financial resources over the span of more than a decade.
In July of 1969, the United States landed two men on the moon and claimed victory to the greatest achievement in human history. Despite a valiant effort, the Soviet Union chose to cancel their program before landing a man and conceal its very existence from the world for twenty years.
Over fifty years have passed since President Kennedy challenged his fellow citizens and, by extension, his Soviet rivals to go to the moon. Now it’s time to honor the efforts and achievements of both countries…
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