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Big Picture Science

Neil, Buzz, and Michael made it look effort­less, but the moon land­ing was nei­ther easy nor inevitable. Soon after Pres­i­dent Kennedy pub­licly stat­ed the goal of send­ing Amer­i­cans to the moon, NASA con­fessed that the chances of suc­cess were only about 50/50. But on July 20, 1969, despite enor­mous dif­fi­cul­ties, astro­nauts stepped onto the lunar regolith.

In this spe­cial anniver­sary episode, we go behind the icon­ic phras­es and famil­iar pho­tos to con­sid­er the errors, mishaps, and the Plan B con­tin­gen­cies that dogged the project, as well as hear of the hun­dreds of thou­sands of men and women who made Apol­lo 11 possible.