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On July 20, 1969, people landed on the Moon for the first time. Apollo 11 was the result of years of hard work, pushing the boundaries of science and technology. It has long been considered one of the greatest achievements in the history of mankind. Now, 50 years later, people around the world have been looking back and celebrating the accomplishment of the scientists, engineers and astronauts who worked for NASA at that time.

The landing was a result of the Space Race between the USA and the Soviet Union. At the end of World War II, the Soviet Union and the USA both attempted to recruit German rocket scientists. German rocketry was far more advanced than any other country at the time and both countries wanted to get ahead due to the military applications of rockets. One of the applications for rockets was the potential ability to go into space. Space was often seen as being the next strategic step for a country to be dominant. It was predicted that control of space would be as important as control of the oceans in the 18th century or control of the air in World War II.

NASA was founded in 1958 in order to lead the United States’ space efforts. Project Mercury was the first program that NASA created, the goal being to have an astronaut orbit the Earth. This was considered to be one of the key goals of the Space Race. However, the Soviet Union achieved many of the first milestones in the Space Race, often just weeks or months before NASA. The Soviet Union launched the first man, Yuri Gagarin, into space on April 12, 1961. The first American in space was Al Shephard, just 3 weeks later on May 5, 1961. The Soviet Union beating the US to put the first man in space troubled President Kennedy, who thought Soviet dominance in space would embarrass the US. Kennedy asked Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson to look into how the US could win the Space Race. It was soon decided that the US had superior rocket technology to land on the Moon first.

In September 1962, Kennedy delivered his famous “We Choose to go to the Moon” speech announcing the plans for the US to land a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. NASA was already working on Project Gemini, the follow up to Project Mercury, at this time and used the program to test many of the things they would need in order to go to the Moon. Apollo, although started alongside Gemini in 1961, could not truly begin until all of the goals from Gemini had been met. In 1967, the first Apollo mission was ready to take place. Its goal was to test the new Apollo Command and Service Module, the part of the rocket which the astronauts flew to the Moon and back in. Sadly, the three Apollo I astronauts, Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee, were all killed during a routine ground test of the Command Module when it set on fire and they were trapped inside.

The Apollo I fire almost ended the Space Program but government support was still behind NASA and after months of investigations, the program continued. Two years later, on July 16 1969, Apollo 11 launched to the Moon with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. After three days of travel through space, Armstrong and Aldrin took the Lunar Module down to land on the Moon. Michael Collins was the command module pilot and orbited the Moon waiting to rendezvous with Armstrong and Aldrin when it was time to return to Earth.

The last manned voyage to the Moon took place in December 1972; no human has been to the Moon since this time. Recently, interest about the Moon has renewed, involving talks about setting up a moon base or travelling to the Moon again. Proponents of the idea believe it would be a good first step towards sending a manned mission to Mars. NASA currently has plans to go to the Moon in 2024; however, it is uncertain whether the plans will go ahead.

Difficult words

Boundaries (n): The limits of an area.

Mankind (n): The human race.

Rocketry (n): The study of rockets.

Orbit (v): To circle around something.

Milestone (n): A significant stage or event.

Dominance (n): To lead or be the most superior.

Rendezvous (n/v): To meet with someone or something.

Manned (v): To be controlled by a human.

Voyage (n): A long journey through sea or space.

Proponents (n): People who support something.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English:

American English: 

Match the Synonym!

1. Boundaries A. Landmark
2. Mankind B. Superiority
3. Rocketry C. Meeting
4. Milestone D. Limits
5. Dominance E. Circle
6. Orbit F. Human control.
7. Rendezvous G. Journey
8. Manned H. Humanity
9. Voyage I. Study of rockets

True or False?

1. People landed on the moon more than 60 years ago. T / F

2.  People are celebrating the great accomplishment of landing on the moon for the 50th anniversary. T / F

3. A space race occurred between the USA and Germany. T / F

4. France’s rocketry technology was far more advanced than the rest of the world.  T / F

5. People thought the country that controlled space would be the most dominant country. T / F

6. NASA’s first project was to orbit the Earth. T / F

7. The US beat every milestone before the Soviet Union. T / F

8. President Kennedy was against the space program. T / F

9. NASA’s Project Gemini needed to complete before the Apollo missions could go forward.  T / F

10. On the Apollo 1 mission, 3 astronauts were killed in space.T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. was / hard / years / result / of / Apollo 11 / the / of / work

2. long / achievements / greatest / one / the / has / been / It / considered / of

3. a / result / of / was / the / landing / race / space / The

4. more / any / German / was / country / advanced / / rocketry / other / far / than

5. goals / to / This / the / one / was / of / key / be / considered

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English:

American English:

Manned Attempted Module
Orbit Routine Strategic
Alongside Pushing Launched

On July 20, 1969, people landed on the moon for the first time. Apollo 11 was the result of years of hard work, ____________ the boundaries of science and technology. It has long been considered one of the greatest achievements in the history of mankind. Now, 50 years later, people around the world have been looking back and celebrating the accomplishment of the scientists, engineers and astronauts who worked for NASA at that time.

The landing was a result of the space race between the USA and the Soviet Union. At the end of World War II, the Soviet Union and the USA both ____________ to recruit German rocket scientists. German rocketry was far more advanced than any other country at the time and both countries wanted to get ahead due to the military applications of rockets. One of the applications for rockets was the potential ability to go into space. Space was often seen as being the next ____________ step for a country to be dominant. It was predicted that control of space would be as important as control of the oceans in the 18th century or control of the air in World War II.

NASA was founded in 1958 in order to lead the United States’ space efforts. Project Mercury was the first program that NASA created, the goal being to have an astronaut ________ the Earth. This was considered to be one of the key goals of the Space Race. However, the Soviet Union achieved many of the first milestones in the Space Race, often just weeks or months before NASA. The Soviet Union ___________ the first man, Yuri Gagarin, into space on April 12, 1961. The first American in space was Al Shephard, just 3 weeks later on May 5, 1961. The Soviet Union beating the US to put the first man in space troubled President Kennedy, who thought Soviet dominance in space would embarrass the US. Kennedy asked Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson to look into how the US could win the Space Race. It was soon decided that the US had superior rocket technology to land on the moon first.

In September 1962, Kennedy delivered his famous “We Choose to go to the Moon” speech announcing the plans for the US to land a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. NASA was already working on Project Gemini, the follow up to Project Mercury, at this time and used the program to test many of the things they would need in order to go to the moon. Apollo, although started ____________ Gemini in 1961, could not truly begin until all of the goals from Gemini had been met. In 1967, the first Apollo mission was ready to take place. Its goal was to test the new Apollo Command and Service Module, the part of the rocket which the astronauts flew to the moon and back in. Sadly, the three Apollo I astronauts, Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee, were all killed during a ___________ ground test of the Command Module when it set on fire and they were trapped inside.

The Apollo I fire almost ended the Space Program but government support was still behind NASA and after months of investigations, the program continued. Two years later, on July 16 1969, Apollo 11 launched to the moon with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. After three days of travel through space, Armstrong and Aldrin took the Lunar Module down to land on the moon. Michael Collins was the command ___________ pilot and orbited the moon waiting to rendezvous with Armstrong and Aldrin when it was time to return to Earth.

The last manned voyage to the moon took place in December 1972; no human has been to the moon since this time. Recently, interest about the moon has renewed, involving talks about setting up a moon base or travelling to the moon again. Proponents of the idea believe it would be a good first step towards sending a ___________ mission to Mars. NASA currently has plans to go to the moon in 2024; however, it is uncertain whether the plans will go ahead.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you know about the first moon landing?
4. Are you interested in space exploration?
5. Does your country have a space program?
6. Do you think space travel is important?
7. In 1969, the moon landing cost $24 billion. Do you think it was worth the cost?
8. How was your country affected by the Cold War?
9. What do you think about private space companies?
10. Are there any things that you think humans should try to achieve in the future?
11. What do you think of the astronauts who went to the moon?
12. Would you like to go to space? Why or why not?
13. What is one of the greatest achievements in your country?
14. Do you think space tourism will happen in the near future?
15. Do you think NASA should get more or less government funding?
16. What do you think NASA should do next?
17. What do you think are the best and worst things about travelling in space?
18.  Do you think aliens exist?
19. Do you like any films that take place in space?
20. Are there any questions you would like to ask an astronaut?