Robert Goddard suggested sending rockets to the Moon.

Robert Goddard was an American professor and inventor generally acknowledged to be the father of modern rocketry

Robert H. Goddard
Robert Goddard and a liquid oxygen-gasoline rocket in its frame; the rocket was first fired on March 16, 1926, at Auburn, Massachusetts.
Credit: NASA


Soviet spacecraft Luna 2 reached the Moon, impacting near the crater Autolycus.

Luna was a series of 24 uncrewed Soviet lunar probes launched between 1959 and 1976.

luna 2
Luna 2 (launched September 12, 1959) was the first spacecraft to strike the Moon.
Credit: NASA


U.S. Pres. John F. Kennedy proposed a crewed lunar program.

In response to Kennedy’s decision, the United States carried out a warlike, but peaceful, mobilization of financial and human resources.


NASA’s Ranger 7 produced the first close-up pictures of the lunar surface.

Ranger was a series of nine uncrewed probes launched from 1961 to 1965 by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

ranger spacecraft
Illustration of the Ranger spacecraft, 1961.


Luna 9 showed the lunar surface was not too soft to support a spacecraft.

Luna 9 made the first successful lunar soft landing on January 31, 1966.

luna 3
First survey photo of the lunar farside by Luna 3, October 7, 1959.
Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center


NASA’s Lunar Orbiter missions completed photographic mapping of the Moon.

The Lunar Orbiter maps were crucial in choosing the Apollo landing sites.

lunar orbiter 1
The first photograph of Earth taken from the vicinity of the Moon, captured by Lunar Orbiter 1, August 23, 1966.
Credit: Langley Research Center/NASA


NASA’s Apollo 8 made the first crewed flight to the Moon, circling it 10 times before returning to Earth.

Astronaut William A. Anders took the famous “Earthrise” photograph of the Earth rising over the lunar horizon.

William Anders
William A. Anders.
Credit: NASA/Johnson Space Center


Apollo 11 made the first landing on the Moon.

Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin (“Buzz”) Aldrin became the first people to set foot on another world. During their time on the Moon, they collected 21.5 kg (47.5 pounds) of lunar samples.

Buzz Aldrin
U.S. astronaut Edwin (“Buzz”) Aldrin walking on the Moon, July 20, 1969.
Credit: NASA