The Achievements of the US Space Program
Soon after its conception, NASA initiated Project Mercury and NASA's manned space program began. It succeeded in sending the first American into space, and the first American to orbit the Earth. On 5th of May 1961, Alan Shepard made a suborbital journey on board of the spacecraft, Freedom 7. Later, on February 20, 1962, John Glenn maneuvered his spacecraft, Friendship 7 into space and orbited three times around the Earth.
The success of Project Mercury paved the way for the initiation of another program, Project Gemini in 1965, which was aimed at developing the background for NASA's future manned lunar missions. It conducted ten manned and two unmanned space flights, of which Gemini IV, launched on June 3, 1965, became famous as one of its astronauts, Edward Higgins White II, became the first American to carry out a spacewalk.
Project Gemini was followed by Project Apollo, which created history when it landed two astronauts on the Moon. The Apollo program, conceived in 1961, met with setbacks during its initial stage. One of the biggest tragedies in the history of NASA happened during this project. Apollo 1, which was scheduled to be launched on the 21st of February 1967, caught fire during a test on January 27, 1967, on the launch pad, killing the three crew members: Gus Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chaffee. After this tragedy, NASA carried out four successful Apollo missions before the historic Apollo 11 mission. It started its journey on July 16, 1969 with three crew members, Neil Alden Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin Eugene "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr, and landed on the lunar surface four days later. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the Moon, followed by Buzz Aldrin.
The Apollo project continued to send human into space until its final mission on 7th of December 1972. Among these missions, Apollo 13 is often hailed as a major victory in the NASA’s history, as they succeeded in bringing the severely damaged spacecraft back to Earth with its crew members alive. Another important mission was Apollo 15, launched on July 26, 1971, during which the lunar rover was used for the first time to explore the Moon's surface.
Skylab, which was launched on May 14, 1973, was the first US space station. This served as a laboratory to study the effect of zero gravity on the human body, and also to study the Sun using the Apollo Telescope mounted on board.