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The Space Race

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The Space Race by Herminne Tonita -

"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 earth."

President Kennedy's proposal in May 1961 that the United States should send a man to the moon was eagerly welcomed by politicians and the American people. Soon work had begun on the Apollo program, as the project was named.

The Apollo program was another move in the "space race" between the United States and the Soviet Union. The costs of this race were enormous. But there were two important reasons why both Americans and the Russians were willing to pay them. First, there was the question of international prestige- of gaining the respect of the rest of the world by achieving something calling for i mmense scientific and technical skill. Secondly, both Americans and Russians felt that to let the other side get too far ahead in space technology would endanger their security. Earth-orbiting satellites could be used to take spy photos. More frightening still, rockets capable of carrying people into space could also be used to carry nuclear warheads.

Up to the mid 1960s each side matched the other's achievement in the space race. But then the Americans started to draw ahead. Finally, they were ready for the mission to put the first men on the moon-Apollo 11.

The Apollo 11 spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral on the coast of Florida. It carried three men as its crew- Neil Armstrong, Edward "Buzz" Aldrin and Michael Collins. The first two would pilot the section of the spacecraft that would actually land on the moon's surface, the lunar module. Collins had the job of circling the moon in the other spacecraft, the command module, waiting for their return.

The final countdown started five days before blast off. At last, on July 16, 1969, burning 4 ½ tons of fuel a second, a huge 5,000 ton rocket rose slowly from its launching pad on a roaring column of flame. Five days later millions of television viewers all over the world watched Armstrong and Aldrin step down on the surface of the moon.

The two men spent three hours collecting rock samples and setting up scientific instruments on the moon's surface to send information back to earth after they left. Then they rejoined Collins in the command module. Three days later they splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean and helicopters carried them off to a heroes' welcome.
The Space Race written by Herminne Tonita for FamousWhy.com
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Tags: space, race, appolo 11, president kennedy, 1961, spacecraft, cape canaveral, soviet union



Category: Science & Tech  - ( Science & Tech Archive)

Date Added: 27 June '07


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