“Please be advised, there is a Santa Claus.”
Astronaut Jim Lovell, Christmas morning, 1968.
This week will mark the 50th anniversary of what I will argue was the most daring mission in the history of human space exploration. It started with three men climbing into a small capsule on December 21st. They would return to Earth six days and three hours later. It wasn’t an effort to set an endurance record and didn’t even come close. But for the first time, mankind would come close to our nearest companion, the moon. It was an enormous risk, but one NASA was willing to make to beat the Soviet Union to the moon.