Fly me to the moon, 45 years after

Apollo11's launch

It is 45 years today since the Apollo 11 was launched, with Neil Armstrong, Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin and Michael Collins heading for the Moon.

Since before NASA’s Apollo missions started (project creation in 1960, evolution, and subsequent Apollo 1 tragedy in January 1967), the USA had set the goal to win the “Space Race”, the supremacy of space exploration, over the then-USSR.

Apollo11's launch platform

After loosing the first round (the launch of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, in 1957) and also the second one (the first full orbital flight in 1961, by Yuri Gagarin and the Vostok 1, three weeks before Alan Shepard with NASA’s Mercury), the USA honoured the promise made in 1962 by then and soon-to-be-assassinated President, John F. Kennedy, when he spoke about landing a man on the moon before the decade was over:
the striking fact that most of the scientists that the world has ever known are alive and working today, despite the fact that this Nation’s own scientific manpower is doubling every 12 years in a rate of growth more than three times that of our population as a whole, despite that, the vast stretches of the unknown and the unanswered and the unfinished still far outstrip our collective comprehension.

No man can fully grasp how far and how fast we have come, but condense, if you will, the 50 thousand years of man’s recorded history in a time span of but a half-century. Stated in these terms, we know very little about the first 40 years, except at the end of them advanced man had learned to use the skins of animals to cover them. (…)

This is a breathtaking pace, and such a pace cannot help but create new ills as it dispels old, new ignorance, new problems, new dangers. Surely the opening vistas of space promise high costs and hardships, as well as high reward. (…)

Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolution, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of itai??i??we mean to lead it. (…)

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

However, I think we’re going to do it, and I think that we must pay what needs to be paid. I don’t think we ought to waste any money, but I think we ought to do the job. And this will be done in the decade of the Sixties. It may be done while some of you are still here at school at this college and university. It will be done during the terms of office of some of the people who sit here tretinoin cream uk boots. on this platform. But it will be done. And it will be done before the end of this decade. (…)

It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency.


– John F. Kennedy
Rice University, Houston, USA
September 12, 1962

And then, in 1969, the Apollo 11 lunar module did land on the moon.

A shortlist of 12 moonwalkers

Since that July 20th (already July 21st in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania), the list of moonwalkers has grown up to the count of 12.
In December 1972, Eugene Cernan became the last man to walk the surface of the moon.

  • Apollo 11 (1969, July) – Neil Armstrong, Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin;
  • Apollo 12 (1969, November) – Pete Conrad, Alan Bean;
  • Apollo 14 (1971, February) – Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell;
  • Apollo 15 (1971, July/August) – David Scott, James Irwin;
  • Apollo 16 (1972, April) – John W. Young, Charles Duke;
  • Apollo 17 (1972, December) – Eugene Cernan, Harrison Schmitt.


Eugene Cernan (with Harrison Schmitt) on their last moonwalk, on December 13th, 1972

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