In 1969 the Apollo 11 mission put two Americans on the moon. That's just one sentence that encompasses the end of a world war, men and women moving across the country, uncounted thousands of hours of work, failures, triumphs and yes, blood and tears. There were actually several beginnings to this story, and almost all of them lead directly to north Alabama.
Think about this for a moment. When America decided to go to the moon this country was not the leader in space. That honor belonged to Russia and the Soviet Union. In fact the U.S. didn't have a rocket that could do the job. There were however some other things that were crucial to this huge piece of America's science history that we did have. There was a President, and Congress totally behind the effort. There were experienced scientists and technicians who knew what needed to be done, and there was the right man at the right place to lead this monumental effort.
The Apollo 11 mission to the Moon happened 50-years ago. It's important to remember than when the promise of landing Americans on the moon was made in 1961, there wasn't a rocket anywhere in the world that could do the job. Not only did that rocket have to be built literally from the ground up, but it had to be the most powerful rocket ever built. and it had to be reliable. The moon mission itself was one of the great moments in human history, but the rocket that made it possible is still to this day, one of the world's scientific marvels.
One Giant Leap
Astronauts saw the Moon up close in 1968. But flying by is not the same as stopping for a look. In 1969 that would change. A human being, American Neil Armstrong would make that small step to the dusty grey surface of another body in the solar system. 50-years later, it's just as exciting as it was the day it happened.