It’s amazing what any nation can achieve when its government and citizens agree on a common objective – even if it’s something as lofty as putting a man on the moon.
And yet that’s what happened 50 years ago. The Americans on July 20, 1969 put a man on the moon. And an estimated 600 million people were witness to the historic spectacle courtesy of their TV screen.
But the moon launch didn’t happen overnight. In fact, one could argue that the race to the moon began on Oct. 4, 1957 when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to orbit Earth.
Or, one could further argue that it began on May 8, 1945, when the Second World War ended in Europe, and when the Americans and Soviets began to scramble to find those Nazi scientists and researchers who were responsible for the Germans’ astounding rocket technology.
The Soviets rounded up hundreds of German scientists, while the Americans, through something called Operation Paperclip, were able to locate and bring back to the U.S. an estimated 1,600 scientists between 1945 and 1959.