Initiated in 1958, completed in 1963, Project Mercury was the United States' first man-in-space program. The objectives of the program, which made six manned flights from 1961 to 1963, were specific:
- To orbit a manned spacecraft around Earth
- To investigate man's ability to function in space
- To recover both man and spacecraft safely
- Neil Armstrong
The national effort that enabled Astronaut Neil Armstrong to speak those words as he stepped onto the lunar surface fulfilled a dream as old as humanity. Project Apollo's goals went beyond landing Americans on the moon and returning them safely to Earth. They included:Establishing the technology to meet other national interests in space. Achieving preeminence in space for the United States. Carrying out a program of scientific exploration of the Moon. Developing human capability to work in the lunar environment.
Rocket and Spacecraft
The flight mode, lunar orbit rendezvous, was selected in 1962. The boosters for the program were the Saturn IB for Earth orbit flights and the Saturn V for lunar flights.
Apollo was a three-part spacecraft: the command module (CM), the crew's quarters and flight control section; the service module (SM) for the propulsion and spacecraft support systems (when together, the two modules are called CSM); and the lunar module (LM), to take two of the crew to the lunar surface, support them on the Moon, and return them to the CSM in lunar orbit.
As humanity's first reusable spacecraft, the space shuttle pushed the bounds of discovery ever farther, requiring not only advanced technologies but the tremendous effort of a vast workforce. Thousands of civil servants and contractors throughout NASA's field centers and across the nation have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to mission success and the greater goal of space exploration.
On April 12, 2011, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced the facilities where four shuttle orbiters will be displayed permanently at the conclusion of the Space Shuttle Program.