Special Report

The Most Important Events in NASA's History

Source: NASA / JPL

16. Spacecraft lands on moon
> Date: June 2, 1966

Surveyor 1 landed on the moon, the first American spacecraft to land softly on the lunar surface. It touched down on the Ocean of Storms, considered a possible future lunar landing site for the Apollo mission. The spacecraft transmitted more than 10,000 photographs from the surface. The mission was deemed a complete success and demonstrated the effectiveness of the technology critical to the success of future lunar missions.

Source: NASA

17. Fire kills astronauts
> Date: Jan. 27, 1967

During a simulation aboard the Apollo spacecraft on the launchpad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, a flash fire ignited in the pure oxygen atmosphere of the capsule, killing astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee. It was the first fatal accident directly attributed to the U.S. space program, and it led to a redesign of the spacecraft. The Apollo mission of sending astronauts to the moon was resumed in October 1968.

Source: Keystone / Getty Images

18. Apollo 8 orbits moon
> Date: Dec. 21-27, 1968

The crew of Apollo 8 — Frank Borman, James Lovell Jr., and William Anders — were the first people to leave Earth’s orbit, reach the moon, orbit it, and return safely to Earth. The photos they took of the moon and the data they gathered were critical in preparing the United States for the moon landing the following year.

Source: NASA / Getty Images

19. Men land on moon
> Date: July 20, 1969

Neil A. Armstrong became the first person to set foot on another world on July 20, 1969. Buzz Aldrin joined him on the lunar surface a few minutes later. The two astronauts left behind scientific instruments, an American flag, and a plaque with the inscription: “Here Men From Planet Earth First Set Foot Upon the moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in Peace For All Mankind.” Four days later, they returned to Earth, fulfilling President Kennedy’s pledge of landing men on the moon and returning them safely to Earth before the end of the decade.

Source: NASA

20. Apollo dodges disaster
> Date: April 11-17, 1970

NASA averted disaster on the Apollo 13 mission, rescuing astronauts Fred Haise, Jack Swigert, and Jim Lovell after a life-threatening accident. About 56 hours into the flight and before the astronauts landed on the moon, an oxygen tank ruptured and damaged some of the power, electrical, and life support systems. NASA got the astronauts safely home after discovering the Aquarius lunar module — a self-contained spacecraft not damaged by the accident — could provide life support for the return trip.

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.