Important Events for the Apollo Space Program


First Man In Space

April 12, 1961

Yuri Gagarin, Soviet cosmonaut, becomes the first human in space aboard Vostok I. This comes after the Soviet Union had launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik. The space race is on!

Kennedy's Speech at Rice University

September 12, 1962

John F. Kennedy addresses the American public at Rice University, to garner support for the young NASA to send a man to the moon. “We choose to go to the moon,” he famously declared, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard...”

Tragedy on Apollo 1

January 27, 1967

Lives are lost well before departure from Earth. Astronauts Virgil Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee are aboard during Apollo 1's practice run on the launchpad. An electrical fire starts in the command module, leading to an explosion. It was the first scheduled manned mission to space.

First Manned Lunar Orbit

December 24, 1968

Apollo 8 is the first manned spacecraft to enter lunar orbit. The crew of Apollo 8 are able to make a live televised broadcast from orbit, allowing people a moon's eye view of the Earth in real time.

Humans Land on the Moon

July 20, 1969

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin are the first humans to set foot on the moon. The televised moon landing happens just in time to fulfill Kennedy's promise of putting a man on the moon before the decade is out.

A Second Success

November 14, 1969

Apollo 12 makes a precise landing on the Moon's Ocean of Storms. The crew are able to find and inspect the Surveyor probe, which had landed two years before.

Close Call

April 11, 1970

The crew of Apollo 13 narrowly avoid a fatal accident when an oxygen tank explodes, forcing them to cancel the lunar landing. They famously use the lunar module as a lifeboat to make their way back to Earth.


December 7, 1972

Apollo 17 makes what will be the last lunar landign to date. Eugene Cernan is officially the last man to stand on the moon, as he's the last inside the lunar module: "I'd just like to record that America's challenge of today has forged man's destiny of tomorrow ... Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17."