THE APOLLO PROGRAM
The race to put a man on the Moon was the impetus of
NASA's ambitious Apollo program, which, in just six short years, changed the boundaries of human aspirations.
After the Gemini program came Apollo, NASA's most ambitious project yet. It began with seven unpiloted test flights, mostly involving the Saturn I and the
Saturn IB rockets. These test flights led to the design and building of the much larger Saturn V rocket, which would become the heavy-lift vehicle for the Apollo program. The Saturn V was capable of hefting 285,000 pounds (130,000 kg) into Earth orbit, and 100,000 pounds (45,000 kg) to the Moon.
The cone-shaped Apollo command module, designed to carry three astronauts, sat atop the service module. While in Earth orbit, the lunar module was docked with the command module. Once in lunar orbit, two of the astronauts would enter the lunar module for the trip to the Moon's surface, leaving the command and service modules in orbit.