From the 1960s, however, space exploration advanced at a dizzying speed. After the Soviet Union launched the first man – Yuri Gagarin – into orbit in 1961, President John F. Kennedy promised that the United States would land a man on the Moon before the ’70s rolled around. And JFK’s pledge paved the way for a series of unmanned missions to the Moon, which were undertaken in order to learn more about the strange lunar landscape. The Soviet Union also chose to conduct similar projects.
During this period, then, scientists gathered information about the Moon’s environment. And as a result, they discovered both that the lunar landscape featured many craters of different sizes and that it was covered by a fine dust. Researchers also learned that the Moon was made up of rocks not dissimilar to the ones on our own planet. Unlike Earth, though, the natural satellite had no atmosphere or magnetic field.
And human exploration of the Moon really got underway in late 1968. It was during that period, you see, that a manned Apollo 8 flight orbited the astrological body for nearly 24 hours – thus marking the first occasion in which the lunar landscape had been viewed by humans from close up. That being the case, it would be another seven months before man would successfully land on the Moon.