Relive the excitement of man’s first steps on the moon and the long journey it took to get there with 20 new hours of out of this world programming on PBS SoCal’s “Summer of Space” Watch out for “American Experience: Chasing the Moon” and “Blue Sky Metropolis,” four one-hour episodes that examine Southern California’s role in the history of aviation and aerospace.
After USSR’s Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space, U.S. President John F Kennedy announced that the United States would be going one leap further — the moon — and we would be there by the end of the decade. Tensions between the two world powers escalated the space race to a fervent pace. Satellites sent back images of neighboring planets in startling detail and orbiting labs relayed information back to earth that was invaluable to our efforts. In this time of great discovery, science and rocketry shifted from being a tool of fear to a means of drawing humankind closer together. While it was an American team that first graced the surface of the moon, the message was clear that this was an achievement for all to share.
1960 Los Angeles population at 2.5 million.
1961 Alan Shepard becomes first American in space, less than a month after USSR.
1962 JFK announces plan to land men on moon by end of the decade.
1962 A U-2 spy plane photographs a Soviet SS-4 missile in Cuba leading to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
1963 Syncom 2, the first geosynchronous satellite for telecommunications, launches.
1963 JFK is assassinated.
1965 Mariner 4 flies by Mars and is the first spacecraft to take photos of another planet from space.
1965 Ed White becomes first American man to walk in space.
1965 Watts Rebellion
1966 “Star Trek” premieres on NBC.
1968 Apollo 8 orbits the Moon on Christmas.
1969 Apollo 11 lands men on the Moon.
1970 The first DC-10s and L-1011s are flown. Capable of carrying hundreds of passengers, the planes would give commercial air travel a boost.
1972 Last astronauts visit Moon on Apollo 17 mission.
1973 Skylab Space Station launches. It is the first and only space station launched and operated solely by the U.S.
1975 Apollo spacecraft docks with Soviet Soyuz.
1975 Vietnam War ends.
1976 Viking 1 becomes the first spacecraft to successfully land on Mars.
1977 “Star Wars” premieres.
1981 NASA’s Space Shuttle first launches.
1981 Voyager 2 photographs Saturn.
1983 Reagan announces “Star Wars” program, a nuclear defense system.
1986 Space Shuttle Challenger explodes. The tragedy spurs debate about the value of the space program.
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Listen to the first-hand accounts of those who pioneered the technology and built the hardware that made possible mankind’s greatest achievement on “Blue Sky Metropolis” S1 E3: A Space Odyssey – Southern California Spearheads Mankind’s Greatest Achievement. Watch now.