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The Question

(Submitted October 24, 1997)

I just want to know how long it took to build the first space ship to the Moon?

The Answer

You can find a lot of interesting facts about the history of manned space (including the Apollo missions to the Moon) at:

http://www-pao.ksc.nasa.gov/history/

and http://www-pao.ksc.nasa.gov/kscpao/history/apollo/apollo-11/apollo-11.htm

Besides web resources, there are a number of good books about the early space program in your bookstore or local library. "Liftoff" by Michael Collins, an Apollo 11 astronaut, is one that talks not only about the first Moon landing, but about the development of the first "space ships".

Other good books on the subject are "A Man on the Moon" by Andrew Chaikin, "Carrying the Fire" also by Michael Collins, "Moon Shot" by Deke Slayton and Alan Shepherd. There is also a video documentary called "Moon Shot" which covers the development of space ships and the subsequent Moon landing; it is both informative and interesting and has lots of interviews with Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronauts.

To answer your question:

    Apollo 11 landed on the Moon in 1969, 8 years after President Kennedy's famous speech in 1961 (in which he proposed to send a man to the Moon and return him safely within the decade).

You can also find a history of (manned and unmanned) lunar exploration at:

http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/lunar/lunartimeline.html

Best wishes,

Maggie Masetti & Koji Mukai
for Ask an Astrophysicist

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