Idea of lunar landing launched KSC

Setting the goal and accomplishing the mission


President Dwight D. Eisenhower

July 29, 1958 – President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the bill that establishes the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Aug. 19, 1958 – T. Keith Glennan is sworn in as the first administrator of NASA.

Oct. 1, 1958 – NASA begins operations with the mission to perform civilian research related to space flight and aeronautics.

President John F. Kennedy

May 25, 1961 – President John F. Kennedy announces before a joint session of Congress his ambitious goal of sending an American to the moon before the end of the decade.

Merritt Island

Sept. 1, 1961 – NASA requests funding to acquire 80,000 acres for land purchases on Merritt Island to support the Apollo Lunar Landing program on land that would eventually become the Kennedy Space Center.

Launch Operations Center

July 1, 1962 – NASA activates its Launch Operations Center, now known as Kennedy Space Center, on North Merritt Island, creating the stage for U.S. efforts in human space exploration. The activation gives the site, previously under the control of NASA’s Marshall Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., equal status with other agency field centers. Kurt Debus, a German rocket scientist and launch operations leader for Wernher von Braun, is the first center director.

Sept. 12, 1962 – In a speech in Rice Stadium that was intended to get the American people to support the Apollo program, President Kennedy declares, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.’’

July 1963 – Construction of the 525-foot-tall Vehicle Assembly Building begins.

Nov. 29, 1963 – Seven days after President Kennedy’s assasination, President Lyndon Johnson designates the Launch Operations Center and Station No. 1 of the Atlantic Missile Range as the John F. Kennedy Space Center. The Air Force subsequently changes the name of the Cape Canaveral Missile Test Annex to Cape Kennedy Air Force Station.

Fall 1964 –The Operations and Checkout Building is opened and is used to test Apollo spacecraft.

Kennedy Space Center Headquarters building

May 26, 1965 – NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Headquarters building, administrative center for all spaceport activities and the center director’s office, formally opens.

Jan. 27, 1967 – In a practice countdown for the first piloted Apollo test flight, Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chafee are killed when a fire sweeps through their Apollo spacecraft high atop a Saturn 1B rocket and Launch Complex 34.

Oct. 11, 1968 – NASA astronauts Wally Shirra, Walt Cunningham and Donn Eisel blast off from Cape Kennedy on Apollo 7 in the first manned Apollo test flight.

Dec. 21, 1968 – Astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders blast off on the Apollo 8 mission in the first manned launch from Kennedy Space Center and the first human expedition beyond Earth’s orbit.

July 16, 1969 – Apollo 11 launches from Cape Kennedy, carrying Commander Neil Armstrong, Command Module pilot Michael Collins and Lunar Module pilot Edwin “Buzz’ Aldrin.

Armstrong becomes the first person to walk on the moon

July 20, 1969 – Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins become the first humans to ever land on the moon. About 6 ½ hours later, Armstrong becomes the first person to walk on the moon. An estimated 650 million watch on television as he takes his first step, saying “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

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