On July 16, 1969, a Saturn V rocket blasted off, launching the Apollo 11 mission from Florida’s Kennedy Space Station. Four days later, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first humans to set foot on the Moon. An awe-struck five-year-old boy watched the mission on TV. And 44 years later, he was to make an incredible discovery.
The launch of Apollo 11 took place in the context of the highly competitive space race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The Soviets had put the first man into orbit in 1961, Yuri Gagarin, an achievement that shocked the American public. Subsequently, in that same year President Kennedy promised to put a man on the Moon by the end of the 1960s.
After Kennedy fired the starting pistol on the Moon mission, the Apollo program went through years of development and testing prior to the launch of Apollo 11. When it was finally ready to go, the Apollo 11 spacecraft was to be launched by a three-section Saturn V rocket.