After being caught off-guard by the Soviet Sputnik I, and then again by Sputnik II, the US sought to accelerate space exploration.

An astonished nation rallied support for a full-force "space race".

NASA's space program, with sites set far beyond the moon (remember, Venus had already been attempted and achieved by both the US and Soviet space programs in unmanned fly-bys), devised a means to orbit the moon, deploy a lunar landing module, and transport two astronauts (Armstrong and Aldrin) to the surface of the moon — before anyone else in the known world.