Forty years ago, Neil Armstrong stepped on to the Moon and earned his place in history. "One small step for man..." - you know the rest. The race to put a man on the Moon began in the early 20th century when scientists realized it might be possible to send a human beyond our planet′s atmosphere. The first rockets were developed and tested in the 1920s and 1930s but then the space race took a back seat to World War II. By the war′s end the Americans had captured German V2 rocket technology and the rivalry between American and Russia would manifest itself in the Cold War, and who could put someone on the Moon.
In October 1957, the USSR launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite into space. The following month the the Soviets launched Sputnik 2 containing a dog named Laika,who died a few hours after the launch. These early firsts were a major coup for the Russians, forcing the US to play catch-up. After trading minor victories for the next three years, the Soviet Union put the first man into space in 1961 when Yuri Gagarin performed an orbital flight. The Americans matched this feat 10 months later when John Glenn circumnavigated the Earth three times in Friendship-7.
With both nations bent on landing a man on the Moon, the number of missions increased until finally on 21 July 1969 - just over eight years after the first human exited the atmosphere - Armstrong walked on the Moon after Apollo 11 touched down. During the Apollo missions, a dozen of the 38 astronauts who flew eventually walked on the moon.
Buzz Aldrin, landed July 21, 1969
Men From Earth Signed
David Scott, landed July 31-Aug 2, 1971
Two Sides of the Moon
Before we went there, the moon featured heavily into fictional stories dating back to the Renaissance. However some of the most active years for lunar stories ranged from 1930 into the 1960s when space flight was just being realized but we knew little about what to expect. Stories of moon landings, lunar colonization, and alien wars fill the pages of countless novels from the golden age of science fiction.
The Moon has always fascinated children, and children′s writers have filled young minds with wonder - imagine if it really was made of cheese.