In the late evening hours of July 20, 1969, hundreds of millions of people watched in rapt attention the grainy black-and-white footage of Neil Armstrong as he exited the lunar module Eagle and became the first man to set foot on the moon. As he did, he uttered the now-famous line: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
That step culminated an eight-year project to fulfill President John F. Kennedy’s goal of beating the Soviet Union to the moon. It took more than 400,000 scientists, engineers and technicians and about $100 billion in today’s currency to achieve.
Innovations that developed as a result of space technology number in the hundreds of thousands. Among these are cordless tools, memory foam, medical imaging, material used in sports dome covers, electronic devices and scratch-proof lenses.
For years it was speculated that Apollo 11’s trip to the moon would result in the establishment of a moon base and then interplanetary travel. But NASA bogged down on the construction of the International Space Station (the roots of which began in 1972) and the Space Shuttle program. Now NASA doesn’t even have a craft capable of putting a man in orbit.