Topics: Space exploration, NASA, Human spaceflight Pages: 4 (1868 words) Published: September 20, 2014
Space exploration and the space program in general, have been an important part of our past successes as a country. Today, as our government looks at budget reduction and cost cutting measures, the space program is being scrutinized more than ever. Should the space program be cut or should it be reinvented? To fully understand why the space program is so controversial, one must first understand where the space program began.

Shortly after the end of World War II (1939-45), the U.S. and the Soviet Union began an ideological conflict known as the cold war. As each nation tried to gain a strategic and political advantage over the other, both countries began drawing up plans to establish a military presence in space ( 2009). Everything changed though in 1957, when the Soviet Union successfully launched the satellite Sputnik into orbit. This started the space race. In America the response to Sputnik was the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) the following year, with plans to send rockets and eventually men into space. Excitement began to build around the space program in 1961 when then President John F. Kennedy declared that the U.S. will land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth before the end of the decade.

A series of missions aimed at landing a man on the moon began in 1967. The first of the missions ended in tragedy on January 27, 1967, when the command module that would carry three astronauts to space caught fire during a pre-flight test. All three astronauts on board were killed. The mission was later renamed Apollo 1, in honor of the deceased crewmates. The name Apollo would be put on all other manned missions to the moon.

In all, there were 17 Apollo missions to the moon performed by NASA. One of those missions stands out. What is now known as the famous quote, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”, occurred on July 21, 1969 when Neil...
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