Published online 19 June 2009 | Nature | doi:10.1038/news.2009.581


Apollo 40 years on

Exploring the legacy of the first manned lunar missions.

Lunar roving vehicleClick here to read our Apollo special.NASA

Starting today, Nature News is marking the upcoming fortieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission with an online special that examines the history and future of manned space missions to the Moon.

The roots of the US Apollo programme, which on 20 July 1969 landed a man on the Moon, took hold during the political rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union. Over the next two months, Nature News examines to what extent the missions have outlived the cold war — both in terms of their effects on planetary science and the public imagination.

An interactive timeline follows the course of the lunar space race from the starting shot — the 1957 Soviet launch of the first man-made satellite — to today's often-delayed plans for a manned return to the Moon. A slideshow features memorable photographs largely taken by astronauts aboard Apollo missions, and selected articles from Nature 's archive provide a glimpse of the hopes and fears that surrounded the missions at the time.

Meanwhile, there's an opportunity to relive the first Moon landing, as Nature News twitters the Apollo 11 mission as it happened — 40 years on. 

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