When Neil Armstrong first placed foot upon the Moon in 1969, he summed up the feat with the memorable phrase “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” And as Armstrong and his fellow astronauts Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins had just reached arguably the pinnacle of human achievement, his words weren’t an overstatement. Since the history-making Apollo 11 crew made their lunar landing, however, voyages to the Moon have been few and far between – and the reasons why are tough to hear.
But how did man end up on the Moon in the first place? Well, the U.S. had long been trying to find out more about Earth’s natural satellite. Back in 1958, in fact, the United States Air Force had first attempted to launch a probe into orbit around the Moon. Pioneer 0, as the craft is now known, was equipped with a camera and other instruments to record data about the astronomical body. The probe only reached about ten miles into the air, however, before the rocket carrying it skyward stopped working properly and subsequently exploded.