How NASA Got the Public Excited for a Manned Space Program

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong took mankind’s historic first steps on the moon. During an address to Congress in 1961, President Kennedy challenged the country to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. He stated, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” In the early 1960’s, NASA had a huge task of getting the public excited about the idea of a manned space program. NASA hired many media veterans to lead its PR team to keep the public informed and interested in the growing space efforts. For a decade, across magazines, newspapers and television, NASA began to highlight how space exploration was not just science fiction, but something could benefit the common person. The astronauts and their families were enlisted as media personalities, which made them relatable. The goal was to bring space exploration into the American home. The intense marketing and PR efforts paid off when 94 percent of Americans tuned in to watch Neil Armstrong make history 46 years ago.