On July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 spaceflight touched down on the lunar surface, and American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first human beings to set foot on the moon. The pivotal event—watched on live broadcast by eager onlookers around the world—marked a historic advancement in science and technology. It also served as a triumphant example of the possibilities that can become realities when human ingenuity is applied to a common goal.
Fifty years following the “epoch-making” moment, a new book from Taschen explores all that it took to get astronauts to the moon for the first time in history. Titled Moonfire: The Epic Journey of Apollo 11, the book includes hundreds of images from NASA vaults and magazine archives that document “the lead up to, aftermath, and breathtaking moments” of the successful moon landing.
In addition to the intimate photographs that provide context for this world-changing event, the Taschen book features excerpts from Of a Fire on the Moon by Norman Mailer, the renowned U.S. journalist who was hired by LIFE magazine to cover the 1969 mission to the moon.
The Space Race
When NASA’s Apollo 11 spaceflight successfully landed on the moon’s surface, Neil Armstrong’s ensuing words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” echoed across every corner of our world. But, of course, the Apollo 11 moon landing didn’t just happen overnight.
The competitive space race between the United States and the Soviet Union fueled multiple milestones in space exploration between the mid-’50s and the mid-’70s. In 1957, the Soviet Union’s Sputnik satellite became the first human-made object to be launched into space. In 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person to travel to outer space, completing a full orbit around the Earth. One year later, John Glenn became the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth.
A new era
Half a century following the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969, space travel is entering a new era. Last year, the California-based space technology startup Orion Span announced plans for a luxury hotel in space (which the company said would host guests by 2022). Additionally, NASA’s International Space Station, named Axiom Space, partnered with a travel firm to send the first commercial travelers on a 10-day trip in orbit around the Earth as soon as 2020.
Various industry behemoths have their sights set on space conquests too, with futuristic endeavors in development such as rocket launches from Jeff Bezos’s aerospace company, Blue Origin, and commercial space flights from Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. Elon Musk has his eye more specifically on commercial travel to Mars via his spacecraft manufacturing company, SpaceX, although it’s still a distant goal from a technological perspective.
The new space race is making serious strides toward creating a type of tourism that is literally “out of this world.” So where will the next 50 years of celestial curiosity take us? If humankind’s previous successes in space are any indication, our bet is to infinity, and beyond.
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