The 40th anniversary of the first Moon landing is right around the corner, and former io9 researcher Andrew Liptak is documenting this momentous event in a series of posts on his blog. Today he's got a detailed backstory on the missions that led up to that amazing first human step on the Moon. He writes:
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy laid down what seemed like an impossible goal for the nation: to reach the moon and land successfully before the end of the 1960s . . . NASA had been formed only a couple of years prior, in 1958, and instituted Project Mercury a year later, designed to bring a human into space and back again safely. This project was the first of three projects, with the overall intent on bringing people to space, and later, to the moon . . . Mercury was only the first step.
What's exciting about reading over Andrew's account is imagining what it must have been like to live through the 1950s and 60s, before all our disappointments over space travel and colonization.
Back then, it seemed as if a Mars colony was right around the corner. And now just getting back to the Moon seems like a major undertaking. I think we could use a little bit more of that long-lost optimism today, tempered of course with wisdom from what we've learned. But we can't throw away the dream of going to space now, especially with the planet feeling more crowded every day - and with so many recent discoveries of potential Earth-like planets elsewhere.
Check out Andrew's full article on his blog. And watch for further installments!