The Apollo program, sometimes called Project Apollo, was an American aerospace project carried out by NASA, which pursued space exploration using unmanned space capsules, and returned to space three times, with each mission achieving a unique record. In all three missions, it was the astronauts that made the achievements, and not the machines, of the project. The Apollo program, and especially the lunar missions, were some of the most expensive and important programs ever launched by NASA and were some of its most successful endeavors.
The Apollo program itself was begun in January 1966 with the manned launch of Apollo 11. The mission brought the first crew of astronauts to the surface of the Moon. Seven more successful moon missions followed, making Apollo 11 one of the most successful missions in the history of the space program. The Apollo program brought the first spaceflights to the surface of the Moon and set the stage for future lunar explorations.
Apollo 12 was the last of the manned lunar missions and marked the beginning of what would become an extended period of space exploration. This series of seven missions, plus the four that followed after it, brought the total number of moon missions to nine. All seven of the Apollo programs were launched from Cape Canaveral, and the sole exception was the Saturn V rocket, which carried out the experiments and cameras that ended up on the moon. Many of the Apollo missions took advantage of new technologies that were available in the wake of the Mercury Apollo program that had been canceled less than a year before due to the inability of the United States to produce enough fuel to support it.
Apollo 13 was the last of the piloted Apollo program and was meant to make the final unmanned flight around the Earth. It was not only the first launch of a spacecraft into orbit that was so important, but also meant the end of the use of the standby Gemini, Agena, and Titan missiles that had been in service since prior to the inception of the program. The loss of this precious arsenal, along with the deaths of all the astronauts brought on by the tragic Gemini accident, changed the face of the space flight program forever.
There have been a total of twenty Apollo missions to date, including the very successful Apollo 11, which landed on the moon’s moon surface. The eight all-time greatest achievements of the NASA space program are all headed by one man, although they were designed to fly together. The two other missions to the moon that NASA has ever accomplished are the unmanned lunar missions, namely the unmanned Apollo 14 and the unmanned Apollo 17. These two missions successfully delivered the lunar samples back to earth and established the basic tools necessary for further lunar exploration.
The Saturn I and Saturn II launch vehicles, along with the Saturn V and the Saturn VI capsules, put the first men on the moon. The original design concept for the moonwalk was almost perfect, but the program was canceled at the last minute when it became apparent that it simply wasn’t going to work, due to cost and time restraints. Nevertheless, the US did eventually send astronauts to the moon using this same program. The programs proved that it was indeed possible to put a crew on the moon, though the success of the program prompted NASA to look at new ways to send astronauts to the moon and back.