On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced that the United States would commit to a lunar landing by 1970 before a special joint session of Congress.

That ambitious goal set off a scramble that required an enormous effort by scientists, engineers, astronauts, and many others as the U.S. tried to respond to the Soviet Union’s early accomplishments in the so-called "space race."

Fifty years ago this month an historic event proved that humans could land on the moon. Many hands played a role in making that mission a success, including retired Eastman Kodak electronics engineer and scientist, Arthur Cosgrove. In the mid-to-late 1960s, Cosgrove was directly involved with the Lunar Orbiter Program which helped navigate ideal landing sites for Apollo 11 through mapping the moon’s surface. Cosgrove and WXXI news director, Randy Gorbman, who has been reporting on the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, join host Hélène Biandud Hofer to discuss where we’ve been and what we have yet to explore.

It has been 50 years since the Apollo 11 moon landing, and we discuss what it took for the U.S. to meet John F. Kennedy's goal. What kind of technology did we need to develop? And what did we learn from the mission?

Our guests share the legacy of the moon landing, and discuss the current state of the space program and research. We also preview a number of local events and exhibits commemorating the moon landing. In studio:

After a decades-long battle, adoptees in New York may soon be celebrating a major victory. But as we’ll learn, having unrestricted access to your birth certificate carries with it hopes and fears some people don’t anticipate or understand. Finding support through what some call “the endless journey,” on this edition of Need to Know.

Also on the show, it was 50 years ago when the first humans walked on the moon. We’ll hear from a Rochester man involved in a special project that paved the way for a moment that changed history. 

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When astronaut Neil Armstrong first stepped on the moon 50 years ago, it was a giant leap for functional fashion.

The spacesuit he wore was an unprecedented blend of technology and tailoring.

"The suit itself is an engineering marvel," says Malcolm Collum, the chief conservator for the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. "Every single thing on here is a specific function. It is engineered to the last little detail."

In 1961, when President John F. Kennedy announced a goal of "landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth" before the end of the decade, the mission seemed all but impossible.

"[The U.S.] didn't have a spaceship that could fly to the moon," journalist Charles Fishman notes. "We didn't have a rocket that could launch to the moon. We didn't have a computer small enough or powerful enough to do the navigation necessary to get people to the moon. We didn't have space food."

Supermoon Saturday

May 4, 2012

This weekend, the moon will perform an impressive visual illusion...it will "appear" to be much bigger and brighter than usual.

This optical illusion is called a 'supermoon,' when the full moon's peak coincides with its closest approach to the Earth's orbit. The moon will come within 221,802 thousand miles from the Earth. The last supermoon was in March of 2011. WXXI's LeShea Agnew spoke with Steve Fentress, Planetarium Director at the Rochester Museum and Science Center.