The Apollo program was the direct manifestation of the 1962 Rice Stadium speech from President Kennedy for America to step up to the challenge of the space race. With $25bn in authorized funding, the program was launched.
Apollo Missions – 1963-1972
Prior to the Apollo 11 mission, NASA had experienced the loss of three astronauts in a pre-launch simulation on January 27, 1967 via the Apollo 1 disaster. This situation prompted them to revamp their safety protocols for future missions. Through a series of subsequent Apollo missions, NASA had perfected the spacecraft flight process to the point of orbiting the moon for the first time with the Apollo 8 crew in December of 1968. The Apollo 9-10 flights further allowed the agency to perfect all aspects planned for the Apollo 11 flight.
Video credit: NASA
50 Years Later – 2019
July 20, 2019 will mark the iconic moment in aerospace history as Neil A. Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, Jr. first walked on the moon. Perhaps astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot wasn’t as famous as Armstrong or Aldrin, but he was an integral participant in this history making moment. At the time, the space race was in full swing and expectations were high to have America be the first on the moon.
With the conclusion of Apollo 17 in 1972, that was the last mission to date NASA embarked on where crew members stepped foot on the moon. With renewed interest in more missions to both the moon and ultimately mars, NASA has requested an additional $1.6bn in funding on top of its $22bn FY budget. It remains to be seen if they will get the requested funding from Congress given the current budget climate.