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Half a century ago we've left the lunar ambitions behind

Abandoning the bold space programs spared money, but not the humankind

19.Dec.22 10:49 AM
By Shawn Highstraw
Photo NASA


Half a century ago we've left the lunar ambitions behind
Exactly fifty years ago today, the participants in the last Apollo mission to the moon landed on Earth again. Five decades later, astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt are still the very last people to set foot on the moon.

Many people know the Apollo space program from the first moon landing. On July 20, 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission. In doing so, he uttered the legendary words: "a small step for Man, a giant leap for mankind."

After the manned moon landing during the eleventh Apollo mission, six other Apollo missions took place: Apollo 12 through 17. Five of the six missions have landed astronauts on the moon. Between 1969 and 1972, a total of twelve people walked on the moon and even drove around in a lunar rover.

It was also planned that the astronauts of the Apollo 13 mission would land on the moon. But during that space trip, fate struck. On the way to the moon, an oxygen tank exploded. During that incident, Commander Jim Lovell made the historic statement: "Houston, we've had a problem."

The crew of the Apollo 13 mission survived. The astronauts were lucky that they were still on the way out. As a result, the lunar lander was still attached to the Apollo spacecraft. The lunar lander was used to supply electricity, water and oxygen. A moon landing was no longer in it, but the crew was able to safely return to Earth on april 17, 1970.

The Apollo program is an important chapter in space history. Based on the knowledge and experience gained by the US space agency NASA with those missions, numerous manned and unmanned space trips have been made since then.

We are now on the cusp of a new chapter in space history. On december 11 of this year - exactly fifty years after the last Apollo mission-the unmanned Orion spacecraft landed in the Pacific Ocean. Orion had been on a 26-day space trip to the moon. That was the first mission in the new Artemis space program.

The goal of the New Artemis space program is to put humans back on the moon by 2025. But the moon is now only an intermediate step. Eventually, NASA also wants to make manned space trips to Mars. This will only happen after 2030.

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