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Mount Rushmore, Liberty Bell and the Statue of Liberty are among few of the many emblems that have come to represent America and its extraordinary history. These symbols, sometimes referred to as Americana, often tell a story about the time period, culture and people that they were created by. Yet no photograph captures such a powerful sentiment, as does the famed photograph of the first men on the moon. This photo, which is a panoramic photo originally shot in color and in two frames, depicts Buzz Aldrin setting up and gazing at two flags set up on the moon, during the extraordinary first moon landing. The moon landing occurred in 1969, during a decade noted for dramatic cultural and technological advancement in American history. The Apollo Moon Landing not only symbolizes an essential piece of American history, but further represents the scientific advancements and increased patriotism of Americans throughout the 1960s.
During the 1960s, the United States was in the midst of the Cold War against the Soviet Union. A conflict rooted in the nuclear arms race from World War II, the Cold War had created very tense relations between the USSR and the United States. Many Americans were shocked when the USSR launched Sputnik, the first man-made satellite, into space in the late 1950s. A sudden sense of urgency overcame the country and over the next few years, Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy created the brilliant NASA program and increased its funding by more than 500% in order to win the inevitable ‘Space Race’ against the Soviets. President Kennedy “…believed that this nation should…achieve the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon…” and to stay true to his word, three men were sent to the moon before the end of the 1960s. The Apollo Moon Landing, which depicts Buzz Aldrin saluting the American flag on the moon in the right frame, represents not only the hard work and resilience of the American nation, but also the American unity behind such an exceptional accomplishment.
The photo is further representative of the many scientific achievements that occurred during the 1960s. The most noticeable accomplishment in the photo is the development of the nation’s first space exploration technology. Over the course of a decade, NASA successfully developed technologies that inevitably led to this monumental moon landing. Additionally, the image also shows an area in which Buzz Aldrin is setting up a Solar-Wind Collector (SWC) on the moon. These SWC experiments served to not only determine the composition of solar wind (flux of electrically charged particles released by the sun), but further provided essential data to analyze parts of the moon never touched before. These experiments, which were carried out on many of the following Apollo missions, essentially gave scientists on Earth a fundamental understanding of substances and forces that lay beyond our planet.
Even though the 1960s is most often remembered for the Civil Rights Movement, this photo depicting the first moon landing represents the many scientific advancements and increased patriotism that also took place in the United States during the 1960s. During the midst of the Cold War, Americans banded together in order to develop the technology needed to ensure that the first man on the moon was an American. Despite the tensions that existed between the US and the USSR during the 1960s, the relation between both nations began to improve during the 1970s. As the Space Race came eventually came to a close, both nations sent men into space on a joint mission inevitable fostering stronger relations between two extraordinarily powerful nations.
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