WASHINGTON—Commemorating what is widely considered to be the greatest achievement of space exploration, NASA on Tuesday celebrated the 60th anniversary of the launching of the first moon to orbit Earth. “We may not consider the idea of a moon that orbits Earth to be that big of a deal today, but if you mentioned it just a few decades ago, people would think you were crazy,” said NASA acting administrator Robert M. Lightfoot Jr., explaining that with the successful launch of the 7.36 x 1022 kg satellite into orbit, the United States effectively won the space race precipitated in the 1950s by the Soviet Union’s launching of the first meteor. “It wasn’t an easy journey—one of the models exploded on the launch pad and another burned up while it was exiting the atmosphere. But thanks to key technological developments such as the three-stage super heavy-lift launch vehicle and the innovative computer systems on board, we proved that no goal, no matter how impossible it might seem, is unattainable.” Lightfoot went on to say that further advances would allow NASA to launch a second moon by 2040 and then another moon approximately every 10 years after that.

Advertisement