Missions to the Moon

People have long been fascinated by the Moon but it was not until after the Second World War that the space race began. In the cold war between the Soviet Union and America, the two greatest powers in the world competed in all aspects for supremacy. No area more actively demonstrated this than the space race where the two nations competed in the production of rockets and space flight. Development in both areas offered military advantages. The rockets used to send the first satellites into orbit by the Russians were also used as intercontinental ballistic missiles. The Americans also realised the importance of satellites to spy on the Russians from a secure position in space.

NASA achieve image of President Kennedy Giving his famous speech announcing the USA aims to land a man on the Moon.

NASA file image of president Kennedy during his famous speech

In May 1961 the United States declared that they would be the first to land a man on the Moon, and they would do this before the end of the sixties. The United States of America achieved their goal with the Apollo 11 mission. Five further landings were made, each landing a further two men on the moon. The later visits included a vehicle in which the astronauts could drive around the surface of the Moon.

NASA image AS_11_40_5903 showing  Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission

NASA Apollo 11 mission image

Although denied at the time the Russians competed to reach the Moon first, however the Russians did achieve many firsts:

  • First rocket to hit the Moon
  • First soft landing of a probe on the Moon
  • First pictures of the far side of the Moon
  • First to explore the terrain of the Moon with robots
  • First to achieve a long term base in space with the Mir Space Station.
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    REF : M0013

    Surface of the Moon

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