|On July 24th, six months before the goal set by President Kennedy, American astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. Armstrong's words, as he set foot on the moon, were, "that's one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind."
The US manned space program began when Alan Shepard became the first American astronaut in space, on May 5th, 1961. Shepard participated in the Mercury program, which was followed by the Gemini program. Twenty days later, President John F. Kennedy committed the United States to landing a man on the moon before the end of the decade.
The Gemini programs included attempts at space docking between two spacecraft, as well as a spacewalk. The space program suffered a serious setback when, on January 27th, 1967, a fire destroyed an Apollo command module on the pad, killing the three astronauts within it. Finally, on July 24th, 1969, American astronauts landed on the moon.