33 One Small Step for Man 1969 ARE WE ALONE? Earthlings have asked this question ever since we first weighed the riddle of the stars, and a giant leap was taken toward realizing an answer when Neil Armstrong hopped from a flimsy lunar module onto the surface of the moon. It was July 20, 1969, only a century after Jules Verne wrote a novel about going there, From the Earth to the Moon.
The Space Age began in earnest on October 4, 1957, with the Soviet launch of Sputnik I, the world's first artificial satellite to achieve orbit. The U.S. followed a few months later with Explorer I, and the race was on. An ardent commitment to exploration by President Kennedy and an equally zealous Soviet program led to a high-wire one-upmanship in the 1960s that spawned stunning technological advances, culminating in the Apollo 11 moon walk. Televisions carried the fuzzy images, the history in the making, and a global community basked in this wondrous human conquest. Fittingly, it was satellites themselves that made the broadcast possible, and the world a little smaller. Since that first trip to the moon, there have been deeper probes--Discovery, Endeavour, Galileo--into our solar system. But as space engineer Wernher von Braun observed, the journeys to the moon were like steps in human evolution, akin to the moment life emerged from the sea to establish itself on land.