President Kennedy - President Kennedy On President Kennedy...

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President Kennedy On May 25, 1961 President Kennedy announced: "I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth." In pursuit of this goal, it was considered necessary to conduct several unmanned test flights and supporting programs, including the Mercury, Gemini, Ranger, Surveyor and Lunar Orbiter. The Mercury program aimed at meeting the Soviet challenge and putting American astronauts into orbit around the earth. The Mecury-Redstone launched the first U.S. astronaut into space on May 5, 1961. Alan Shepard spent about 15 minutes in space during a sub-orbital mission aboard the Mercury capsule "Freedom 7." Gus Grissom followed in his Mercury craft, the "Liberty Bell," on an identical mission shortly after. Since the Redstone was only "one-staged", it did not have the propulsive power to put two astronauts in space on the same mission. The Mecury-Atlas launch vehicle was a "one-and-a-half" stage vehicle which used an ultra-light-weight structure to reduce the lift-off weight of the rocket. Even with this development, it can barely make it into a low-altitude Earth orbit. This modified vehicle launched John Glenn in his "Friendship 7" capsule into three Earth orbits on February 20, 1962. He was followed by astronauts Scott Carpenter, Walter Schirra, and Gordon Cooper in Mercury missions of somewhat longer duration. The Gemini program was the next major space activity. Its two-stage design permitted two men to ride into space together so that they could conduct "extra vehicular activities", or EVA’s. On June 3, 1965, Ed White took a daring step out of the Gemini 4 capsule into space. There he somersaulted, floated lazily on his back, pirouetted, and stood grinning like a kid on Gemini’s titanium hull for 21 minutes. The Gemini capsule was also designed to use fuel cells, which is one of the first technologies
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required for lunar landing.
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