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8 Little-Known Facts About the Moon Landing

July 20, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

When Neil Armstrong stepped down a ladder and onto the moon on July 20, 1969, the nation achieved an audacious vision. But there were surprising moments along the way and not everything went as expected.

It was a feat for the ages. Just seven years before, a young president had challenged the nation to land a man on the moon—not because it was “easy,” as John F. Kennedy

History Shorts: Apollo 11: What the Moon Smells Like (TV-PG; 1:00)

2. JFK was more focused on beating the Soviets than in space.

In public, President John F. Kennedy had boldly pledged that the United States would “set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people.”

But secret tapes of Kennedy’s discussions would later reveal that in private, JFK was less interested in space exploration than in one-upping the Soviets.

In a 1962 meeting with advisors and NASA administrators, JFK confessed, “I’m not that interested in space.” But he was interested in winning the Cold War. Just months after JFK’s inauguration, the Soviet Union had sent the first man into space. Kennedy asked his vice president, Lyndon B. Johnson, how the U.S. could score a win against the Soviets.

One of the best ways to show U.S. dominance, Johnson reported back, was by sending a manned mission to the moon. Johnson, in fact, had long been a space advocate, saying in 1958, “Control of space is control of the world.”

Watch video: Apollo 11: JFK’s Secret Space Tapes

History Shorts: Apollo 11: JFK?s Secret Space Tapes (TV-PG; 1:01)

3. The Soviets covered up their efforts to get to the moon first.

It turns out that the United States wasn’t alone in wanting to demonstrate its dominance by landing humans on the moon. The Soviet Union was also gunning to accomplish the feat. But once U.S. astronauts got there first, the Soviets tried to keep their efforts on the down-low.

At first, “secrecy was necessary so that no one would overtake us,” wrote journalist Yaroslav Golovanov in the Soviet newspaper, Komsomolskaya Pravda. “But later, when they did overtake us, we had to maintain secrecy so that no one knew that we had been overtaken.”

Read more: The Soviet Response to the Moon Landing? Denial.

Did the US Go to the Moon …read more

Source: HISTORY