The countdown to history

The space programme changed the way we live in more ways than even Nasa's boffins could have imagined during that first moon landing

1. Small step for man ...

... one giant fuss. Sometimes it's hard to remember what Neil Armstrong, above, is more famous for: fluffing his lines or taking that infamous stride. Four decades on and still the debate rages over what he meant say: "One small step for man" in general or "a man" in particular. Just imagine the fuss if he'd tripped.


2. Nations eyeing the Moon


Launched its first spacecraft, an unmanned probe, into orbit around the Moon in October 2008 with the mission of mapping the lunar surface and searching for uranium deposits.


Has plans for a Moon landing and a space station by 2020. Chinese "taikonauts" performed a spacewalk in September 2008, a feat otherwise accomplished only by the American and Russian space programmes.


3. Space exploration landmarks since 1969

Hubble telescope:

The orbiting telescope has peered deep into space – and back in time – for nearly 20 years, changing our understanding of the Universe.

Spirit and Opportunity:

The two Mars rovers landed in January 2004 and are still working. They found evidence the red planet once had water and, so, could have supported life.

International Space Station:

The largest artificial satellite in orbit is a testament to international co-operation, giving astronauts valuable experience of long-term living in space.


4. Women killed in space

Christa McAuliffe:

A teacher who would have been first non-professional astronaut in space; died in explosion aboard shuttle Challenger in 1986.

Dr Judith Resnick:

Second woman to orbit the Earth; also perished in the Challenger explosion.

Dr Laurel Clark:

US navy diver and physician who logged 16 days in space before dying in the 2003 explosion aboard the shuttle Columbia.

Dr Kalpana Chawla:

Indian-born astronaut; also died on Columbia.


5. People called Moon

Marion Moon:

Buzz Aldrin's mother's maiden name. No, really

Keith Moon:

Drummer with The Who

Moon Unit:

Zappa Frank's daughter

Sun Myung Moon:

Korean founder of the Moonies

Ban Ki-moon:

UN Secretary General


6. Key statistics

$1.75bn (£1.1bn):

The cost of the Apollo 11 programme in today's money ($355m in 1969).


The number of men who have set foot on the Moon.

500 million:

Worldwide television audience for the first Moon landing.


Travelling expenses for each of the Apollo 11 astronauts.


The sum Neil Armstrong's barber sold a lock of his hair for in 2005.


The year the last man set foot on the Moon.


7. Top songs

Fly Me to the Moon:

Frank Sinatra

Man on the Moon:


Moon River:

Henry Mancini

Walking on the Moon:

The Police

Blue Moon:

Er, everyone!

Moonlight Sonata:



Van Morrison


8. Moon movies

Le Voyage dans la lune (1902):

A 14-minute silent film featuring the man in the Moon glaring at "astronauts".

Frau im Mond (1929):

Futurist Fritz Lang explains the basics of rocket travel.

Now, Voyager (1942):

Bette Davis pleads, "Oh Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars".

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968):

Stanley Kubrick's ode to evolution.

Moonraker (1979):

Bond is up in Hugo Drax's private space station.

An American Werewolf in London (1981):

American tourists on the attack after the Moon brings on a "change".

Apollo 13 (1995):

Tom Hanks in peril.

In the Shadow of the Moon (2006):

What it's like to bounce across the surface. Part of BFI's One Giant Leap (


9. Predictions that never came to pass

Space holidays:

Scientists at Nasa predicted trips to the Moon would be commonplace and intrepid holidaymakers would be packing their bags for Mars. Not yet.

Space hotels:

In 1967, Barron Hilton, of the Hilton Hotels Corporation, predicted space tourists would stay in Hiltons orbiting the Earth by 2000. They don't.

Scheduled space flight:

Shuttles would "carry passengers, supplies to and from orbit on a routine aircraft-like basis". Er, nope!

Nuclear-powered rocket engines:

By 1972 those dreams lay in tatters as the Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application (Nerva) programme was terminated.

Moon lab:

In 1969, Isaac Asimov said: "The Moon offers an ideal spot for an astronomic observatory." We have a space station but no Moon base.

Mars mission:

The US was to send automatic spacecraft to Mars, followed by a manned mission by the 1980s.

Alien life:

The Apollo 11 crew spent 21 days in quarantine on their return to Earth. No alien bugs, no more quarantine.

Moon "landing" exposé:

Conspiracy theorists claim missions to the Moon were actually fakes and were filmed in a TV studio.

Moon colony:

The landings would be the first step to a settlement.


10. Space spin-offs

Pot Noodle:

Owes its existence to Nasa scientists, who developed freeze-drying technology for the Apollo missions. Sorry, but it's true.


Reason your eggs don't stick. Developed for astronauts' spacesuits.

Space blankets:

Where would marathon runners be without these sheets coated with a thin film of metal that reflects heat?

Air wear:

Nike Jordan trainers and the like were born out of an idea for a shock absorber for astronauts' helmets.

Fireproof cloth:

Developed for use in spacesuits and vehicles: coming to an oven glove near you.


Black & Decker developed a portable drill for the Apollo Moon landings, and a million mini vacuum cleaners and electric screwdrivers were also born.

Pumping iron:

Workouts developed for astronauts led to the invention of the Shuttle 2000-1, precursor to the gym/ torture machines you sweat over today.

Life support:

Much of the technology that would keep you hanging on in intensive care was first used to monitor astronauts during the early space flights.

Scratchproof lens coating:

Carbon treatment to protect astronauts' helmets is the reason why your Ray-Bans stay shiny.

SOS life rafts:

They inflate in 12 seconds and were developed for Apollo mission

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