Wednesday, December 24, 2008

40th anniversary of seeing the dark side of the moon

40th anniversary of seeing the dark side of the moon

By Matt Ford | Published: December 24, 2008 - 11:48AM CT

Humans have been going into space ever since the Russian Aviation and Space Agency launched Yuri Gagarin into a single orbit about Earth on April 21, 1961 aboard Vostok 1. In the intervening 47 years, there have been 292 manned space flights; 182 by NASA, 105 by Russia, two by China, and three by private company Scaled Composites. Out of all of those missions, the majority—in fact a full 283—never really did anything more than go around the block, so to speak. Only nine manned missions have ever truly left Earth and entered the gravitational influence of any other celestial body.

The first time this happened was the Apollo 8 mission, during which Jim Lovell, Frank Borman, and William Anders put their Apollo command module into lunar orbit 40 years ago today, December 24th, 1968. 1968 is considered one of America's most tumultuous years in the 20th century. Beginning with the Tet offensive in Vietnam, which saw heavy American casualties, it was followed up by Rev. Martin Luther King's assassination in Memphis and ensuing riots across the nation, then saw Robert Kennedy get assassinated two months later. Finally, the battle between police and protesters in the streets of Chicago at the Democratic National Convention left a black mark on 1968. However, on December 21st, Apollo 8 launched three humans on the first-ever voyage to the moon.

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