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May 23, 2011 - Challenge of the Decade

Challenge of the Decade Fifty years ago this week, President Kennedy challenged the nation to “landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth” before the end of the decade. The goal was especially bold considering America’s total spaceflight experience at the time consisted of Alan Shepard’s fifteen-minute suborbital flight. Five years to the day after Kennedy’s challenge, NASA unveiled the rocket that would ultimately take astronauts to the Moon. Although not intended to fly, the AS-500-F full-scale Saturn V test vehicle was used to verify the launch facilities, train launch crews, and develop pre-launch checkout procedures. Seen here leaving the Vehicle Assembly Building for the first time, the Saturn V rollout confirmed the incredible progress that had been made in just five short years.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

May 23-29, 2011

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Monday 23

Victoria Day (Canada)

1984: NASA selects 10th astronaut group

Tuesday 24

Last Quarter Moon 2:52 PM ET
Neptune 6° south of Moon

1962: Aurora 7 launched

Moon phase Wednesday 25

Pallas appears stationary

1961: JFK challenges nation to Moon landing before end of decade
1965: Saturn SA-8 launched
1966: Roll-out of first full-scale Saturn V
1973: Skylab 2 begins 28-day mission
2008: Phoenix lander lands on Mars

Moon phase Thursday 26

1951Sally Ride born

Moon phase Friday 27

Moon at apogee
Uranus 6° south of Moon

2009Soyuz TMA-15 launched carrying ISS Expedition 20/21 crew

Moon phase Saturday 28

1959: First primates in space, Able and Baker (monkeys), complete suborbital flight
1964: SA-6 launched, second Saturn I Block 2

Moon phase Sunday 29

Jupiter 6° south of Moon

1919: Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity tested during total solar eclipse

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.