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Massachusetts Institute of Technology  /  MIT Museum
Building N51   265 Massachusetts Avenue   Cambridge, MA 02139
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Giant Leaps: MIT goes to the moon

Ask anyone who was at MIT in the 1060s and early 1970s about the Apollo program and they will tell you where they gathered on campus to watch launches, landings and splashdowns. People all over the world were watching but at MIT, many had much more at stake. In the face of Americans’ shock following Yuri Gagarin’s spaceflight on April 12, 1961, the following month President John F. Kennedy spoke to a joint session of Congress challenging the nation to send a man to the moon and return him safely to earth before the end of the decade.

Just three months later on August 9, 1961, NASA awarded MIT the contract to do just that: design and develop the guidance, navigation and control system for Apollo. In the coming years, MIT made many extraordinary contributions to he American space program from gyroscopes and computer programs to exceptional engineering talent that guided key decisions and programs for both NASA and private industry.

In honor of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission and in celebration of MIT’s pioneering contributions to the Apollo, the MIT Museum in collaboration with the MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Inc., created this showcase of historic artifacts and images. The museum is grateful for Draper Laboratory’s financial support of this project.

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Harold Edgerton

Detail from the Giant Leaps Display

Harold Edgerton

Detail from the Giant Leaps Display