NASA image of Pioneer 10's famed Pioneer plaque, a pictorial message to any extraterrestrial being that may intercept the probe. It features a design engraved into a gold-anodized aluminum plate, 152 by 229 millimeters (6 by 9 inches), attached to the spacecraft's antenna support struts to help shield it from erosion by interstellar dust.
The Apollo program
, also known as Project Apollo
, was the third United States human spaceflight
program carried out by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA), which accomplished landing the first humans on the Moon
from 1969 to 1972. First conceived during Dwight D. Eisenhower's administration
as a three-man spacecraft to follow the one-man Project Mercury
which put the first Americans in space, Apollo was later dedicated to President John F. Kennedy
's national goal of "landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth" by the end of the 1960s.
Kennedy's goal was accomplished on the Apollo 11 mission when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed their Lunar Module (LM) on July 20, 1969, and walked on the lunar surface, while Michael Collins remained in lunar orbit in the Command/Service Module (CSM), and all three landed safely on Earth on July 24. Five subsequent Apollo missions also landed astronauts on the Moon, the last in December 1972. In these six spaceflights, twelve men walked on the Moon.
Apollo ran from 1961 to 1972, and was supported by the two-man Gemini program which ran concurrently with it from 1962 to 1966. Gemini missions developed some of the space travel techniques that were necessary for the success of the Apollo missions. Apollo used Saturn family rockets as launch vehicles. Apollo/Saturn vehicles were also used for an Apollo Applications Program, which consisted of Skylab, a space station that supported three manned missions in 1973–74; and the Apollo–Soyuz Test Project, a joint Earth orbit mission with the Soviet Union in 1975.
The Apollo program succeeded in achieving its goal of manned lunar landing, despite the major setback of a 1967 Apollo 1 cabin fire that killed the entire crew during a pre-launch test. After the first landing, sufficient flight hardware remained for nine follow-on landings, with a plan for extended lunar geological and astrophysical exploration. Budget cuts forced the cancellation of three of these. Five of the remaining six missions achieved successful landings, but the Apollo 13 landing was prevented by an oxygen tank explosion in transit to the Moon, which disabled the command spacecraft's propulsion and life support. The crew returned to Earth safely by using the Lunar Module as a "lifeboat" for these functions.
Robbert Hutchings Goddard (1882–1945) is considered to be one of the fathers of modern rocket propulsion. A physicist of great insight, Goddard also had a unique genius for invention. By 1926, Goddard had constructed and tested successfully the first rocket using liquid fuel. Indeed, the flight of Goddard's rocket on March 16, 1926, at Auburn, Massachusetts, was a feat as epochal in history as that of the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk. Yet, it was one of Goddard's "firsts" in the now booming significance of rocket propulsion in the fields of military missilery and the scientific exploration of space. Goddard's work largely anticipated in technical detail the later German V-2 missiles, including gyroscopic control, steering by means of vanes in the jet stream of the rocket motor, gimbal steering, power-driven fuel pumps and other devices. His rocket flight in 1929 carried the first scientific payload, a barometer, and a camera. Goddard developed and demonstrated the basic idea of the "bazooka" two days before the Armistice in 1918 at the Aberdeen Proving Ground. Goddard was the first scientist who not only realized the potentialities of missiles and spaceflight but also contributed directly in bringing them to practical realization. This rare talent in both creative science and practical engineering places Goddard well above the opposite numbers among the European rocket pioneers.