In the 1960s, America was captivated by the possibility of landing a human, invariably referred to as a "man," on the moon. This goal was a matter of national prestige and pride, a matter of beating what was then our most prominent political enemy (who we'd mention by name, but can't; it'd be a spoiler for one of the quiz questions to come). It was also something of a distraction in the late 1960s when race relations and the Vietnam War were dividing the nation as few things did before or since.
Though America's space program was lagging behind that of That Powerful Rival, there had been signs that things were going in the right direction. NASA had launched Alan Shepard into space, then John Glenn into orbit. But just when the moon seemed within reach, there was a tragic setback, a flash fire in a grounded capsule, during a launch rehearsal, killed three crew members, among them Gus Grissom. This set back manned flights for 20 months, while NASA investigated what went wrong.
As we all know, things eventually went right, and an American was the first to leave a footprint on the moon. How much do you know about this momentous historical event? We've got a quiz that'll test your space savvy - give it a try now!
Kennedy made the vow to send a human to the moon, which was not fulfilled in his lifetime. His predecessor, Eisenhower, thought it was crazy to spend billions (yes, billions, in 1960s dollars) in what was essentially a competition with the Soviets.
The lunar missions were named after the Greek god of daytime, learning and medicine, a forward-thinking, ambitious sort of god. The Viking missions were unmanned ones to Mars.
If you got this question wrong, the rest of this quiz might not go so well. Gagarin not only wasn't part of the Apollo mission, but he wasn't even part of NASA. He was a Russian cosmonaut and the first man in space.
Sadly, the Apollo 11 mission occurred in the last year of the 1960s. We say "sadly" because it would have been probably the one thing that could have kept the 1970s from being a lousy decade from start to finish. (Consider: Nixon, disco, stagflation, Carter, Iran hostage crisis, polyester...)
If you've got a newspaper from July 21, 1969, you've got a real keepsake on your hands. It was on the previous day that Armstrong took his first steps on the moon.
While Kennedy made the bold (and costly) promise to send a human to the moon, it wasn't him or his predecessor, Lyndon Johnson, who saw it through. It was Richard Nixon.
The Soviets, who led in most space-related accomplishments before the Apollo 11 mission, landed the Luna 2 module previously. It was, of course, unmanned.
This allowed for the majestic-sounding phrase "The Eagle has landed." Which has been parodied in various ways ever since.
Michael Collins stayed in orbit, piloting the command module. Hey, somebody had to - he's the unsung hero of the mission!
To us, this sounds like a long time to spend on a barren airless surface. Unless they found a Starbucks up there, which seems possible given the green mermaid's market saturation.
"Columbia" is sometimes used as a metaphoric name for America (because of Christopher Columbus). So, like "Eagle," it was an expression of national pride.
Lunar seas, also called "maria" in Latin, are smooth, flat places on the moon. If you're viewing the moon with binoculars or a telescope, look for the darker areas.
The Space Race, it has to be said, was not one of America's marquee accomplishments. Yes, we got a man to the moon before the Soviets. But the practical benefits of the Apollo missions, in terms of technology, scientific breakthroughs, et cetera, haven't been terribly impressive. Okay, Tang is nice, but still...
The USS Hornet was tasked with picking up the three returning astronauts. One of the people who greeted the returning party was a Navy officer named John S. McCain Jr., whose son would go on to make a splash (sorry) in politics.
Scientists knew that the Moon, barren and devoid of atmosphere, was an unlikely breeding ground for pathogens. Still, to be sure, the astronauts were sponge-bathed with antibacterials and then spent three weeks in quarantine.
Though the subsequent missions got far less attention, no less than five trips sent humans to the moon after Neil Armstrong's "small step for a man." The last was in 1972.
If you chose "John Deere," go to your room! This is a serious quiz about a serious episode in history, &$#!!
Bear in mind, "escape velocity" doesn't just apply to Earth. The Apollo 11 astronauts had to escape the moon's gravity on the way back.
NASA stands for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Many people incorrectly think the second "A" stands for "Agency" or even "Association."
Though Armstrong's first words on the moon are often quoted as "That's one small step for *a* man, one giant leap for mankind," he can actually be heard saying "...step for man..." Since "man" and "mankind" are interchangeable words, this makes the literal statement a bit confusing. However, people clearly understand what he was trying to say.
Buzz Aldrin's full name was Edwin Eugene Aldrin. His nickname was given to him by his younger brother, who called him "Buzzer" instead of "Brother."
Neil Armstrong was private, but not truly reclusive, in his last years. Collins and Aldrin are still alive as of the writing of this quiz.
Armstrong served in the Navy. Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins both started their military careers at West Point, which is considered official enlistment in the Army, and both transferred to the Air Force.
The Mercury Project was the first manned spaceflight program and the one that put John Glenn into orbit. But the Gemini project came in between them, as part of the run-up to a moon mission.
"Hidden Figures" told the stories of Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson, all of whom broke barriers at NASA. The film portrays as the most gifted of the three and its central character.
Kubrick, who died in 1999, never really escape the rumors that he helped stage and film a fake moon landing. Conspiracy theorists see several supposed "nods" to this in "The Shining," chiefly the scene in which young Danny wears an "Apollo 11" sweater with a rocket design.
When you think about it, the underlying logic isn't entirely bankrupt: America was desperate to beat the Russians to the moon, and it would be much easier to fake than to actually accomplish. However, the idea that so many people, hundreds, really, would guard this secret for the next 50 years and counting is harder to believe than anything else about the moon landing.
The famous "face" is on Mars, not the moon. The feature on the Cydonia region is generally considered to be an accident of geology, not the work of aliens.
Moon rocks have landed on Earth as meteorites. For this to happen, they have to be violently dislodged from the moon's surface by "impact events," then fall to earth. They also have to be large enough to partially survive passing through the Earth's atmosphere. So this is rare, but it does happen.
President Nixon, in 1973, directed that a large lunar-rock sample be broken up and distributed among all 50 states and some foreign countries. Some of these "goodwill rocks" have been stolen or lost, but many others can be seen in various museums.
It was initially thought that these new minerals only existed on the moon. However, they have since been discovered on Earth, though they form under rare conditions.
This varies slightly depending on the time of the month (that's what she said!), meaning whether the moon is at apogee or perigee. 93 million miles is, of course, the distance between Earth and the sun.
Elsewhere in this quiz, we've mentioned the Apollo astronauts being quarantined after their mission. This was mandated under the ETEL, which was laid out specifically because of the moon landing and stayed in effect for years afterward.
This is a famous, but slightly misquoted, line from the Apollo 13 mission. In that mission, Jack Swigert said, "Uh, Houston, we've had a problem" after an explosion damaged their craft.
Michael Collins the revolutionary is probably more famous than the astronaut. He fought in the Easter Rising, and was assassinated at just 32 years old. An Irish whiskey is named for him.